A paralyzed athlete is simultaneously waging a battle with the State of Illinois as he fights to stay alive.
Rasul "Rocky" Clark, a former high school football star, says the state wants to take away his medical card and transfer his care to an HMO.
The change would mean he could no longer get his care at Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey. Instead, he'd have to travel 45 minutes to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County.
"It's wrong for the state to do anybody like that; especially a disabled person," he said Tuesday from his hospital bed.
Clark was 16 when he was tackled during a game at Eisenhower High School. He was left paralyzed from the neck down. Until 2010, he received medical care under a $5 million policy provided by the school.
After the insurance ran out, he was covered by Medicaid with some state support.
Last week his family received a call saying his treatment would change; requiring him to give up the doctors and nurses who have been caring for him and transfer to a new hospital.
"We don't want to leave here," said Annette Clark, Rocky's mother. "They are like family. This is where I know my son will be taken care of."
Along with her pastor, Anthony Williams, Annette Clark is appealing to the governor’s office to intervene on her son’s behalf.
Williams said the insurance change threatens Clark’s quality of life.
"He cannot take the trauma of a 40 minute ride to Stroger Hospital," Williams said.
For now, Clark is being treated for pneumonia at Ingalls. He said that could change as soon as Sept. 1, when the new coverage takes effect.
In a statement released late Tuesday, Quinn's office said they're looking into ways to help the Clark family.
"While we continue to look for ways to increase care options for the family, we are also working with Ingalls Hospital to get them to enroll in the new Medicaid managed care program or at least to make an exception for the Clark family. Uninterrupted health care is crucial in cases like this, and we are doing everything possible to ensure Rocky’s continued well-being," said press secretary Brie Callahan.