WASHINGTON — It’s been 12 years, but Congressman Morgan McGarvey,  D-Ky., remembers every detail. 

“The call from my wife where, you know, she's laughing, she thinks everything's fine, and then the next call I got from her, she's crying and she's in the emergency room because her water had broken,” he recalled.

What You Need To Know

  • Rep. Morgan McGarvey, D-Ky., has filed legislation to require insurance coverage for nutrition products for premature babies

  • McGarvey's twins were born 14 weeks early 

  • The Louisville Democrat worked on similar legislation in Kentucky as a state senator

  • McGarvey's bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing 

McGarvey and his wife Chris were about to welcome their twins, Wilson and Clara, at just 26 weeks into her pregnancy. 

“Our kids were born 14 weeks early,” said McGarvey. “Our littlest one weighed a pound and a half. The chunky guy weighed a pound and 15 ounces. We spent 99 days in the NICU through a lot of ups and downs. It’s a total roller coaster ride.”

One issue, said McGarvey, was ensuring the newborns got the nutrition they needed. 

Doctors recommended that the twins be fed a supplement and, because of health risks, the McGarveys chose one manufactured from human breast milk.

On average, the formula costs more than $12,000 per baby for a 90-day NICU stay, his office said.

“When something comes up and you’re presented with decisions and some of those are foreclosed because of what insurance companies or Medicaid is saying, it is so infuriating and so frustrating and adds to that feeling of helplessness as a parent,” McGarvey said.  

McGarvey, a freshman Democrat from Louisville, has introduced legislation that would mandate insurance coverage to pay for the nutritional needs of premature babies. 

It’s similar to legislation he worked on as a state senator in Kentucky that became law nearly 11 years ago. 

This week, McGarvey reflected on how far his twins have come, now 12, healthy and thriving, and how he wants to help parents who are facing the issues his family did more than a decade ago.

The bill’s chances in the Republican-led House are not clear. It has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

McGarvey is optimistic about moving it forward, he said.

“When you’re sleeping on that chair in a hospital room, you make a lot of promises and you say a lot of prayers,” he said. “And one of the promises we made is that we were going to try and help other people if we could get out of there.”