Mary Lou Retton will not answer questions about donations, health care

Olympic great Mary Lou Retton said in an interview with NBC that she now has health insurance after her hospitalization. There was no response when USA TODAY Sports asked if the donations were paying for it.

Over the past three months, 8,319 donors have given Olympic great Mary Lou Retton nearly half a million dollars — $459,324 to be exact — after her daughter took to social media to announce that Retton was “fighting for her life.” with “a very rare form of pneumonia” and was not insured.

Additionally, over the past three months, USA TODAY Sports has reached out to Retton, her daughter, McKenna Kelly, and two family friends through numerous text messages and phone calls, trying to get answers to questions that remained unresolved as of Monday afternoon.

Asked in several text messages and voicemails Monday about her lack of health insurance until recently, her financial situation and why she refused to reveal where she was hospitalized or the name of her doctor(s) more than two months after she left the hospital, Retton, 55 refused to answer.

Retton’s reluctance to answer the most basic questions about her health care has gained increasing attention for one simple reason: Kelly and her three sisters’ decision to seek public donations for their mother on the crowdsourcing site Had they not done this, Retton’s illness would probably have remained a private matter, never bursting into the public domain and enticing so many strangers to send money.

Although he still declined to speak with USA TODAY Sports, Retton agreed to an interview with NBC’s “Today Show” on Monday morning. She emerged with an oxygen tube up her nose, describing a harrowing month-long hospital stay, including a time when “they were going to put me on life support,” she said. But she was able to come home in late October, she said.

MORE ▼: Mary Lou Retton received $459,324 in donations. She and her family won’t say how they spend.

NBC said Retton did not want to reveal the name of the hospital, which is consistent with how she, her family and associates handled the matter with USA TODAY Sports.

When asked by NBC why she wasn’t covered by health insurance, Retton said, “When Covid hit and after my divorce (in 2018) and all my pre-existing (conditions) — I had over 30 surgeries on orthopedic things — I couldn’t be I allow it.

Then she exclaimed, “But who could have ever known that this would happen to me?”

As for health insurance, she said, “I’m ready now,” confirming that she already has medical insurance, “Yeah, yeah.”

USA TODAY Sports asked her Monday if donations from pay for the health insurance, but there was no response.

When asked in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY Sports why her mother wasn’t covered by medical insurance, Kelly, 26, said Retton couldn’t get affordable health care because of pre-existing conditions, which she said included “over 30 orthopedic surgeries, including four hip prostheses. She experiences chronic pain every day.

Kelly said: “Because of her medical history and the amount of surgeries she’s had from gymnastics and just living, it’s overwhelming for her.”

When told that an insurance agent contacted by USA TODAY Sports found two plans charging $545 and $680 a month that someone with her mother’s medical history would qualify for, Kelly said Retton was once covered by health insurance, but “since she was unable to work and give speeches for two years due to the pandemic, she dropped her insurance.”

Retton was “about to get (health insurance) again, but she didn’t and then she got sick,” Kelly said.

In a text message to USA TODAY Sports Saturday, Kelly would not comment on how much of the nearly half-million dollars was accounted for, adding that “all remaining funds” will go to a charity of her mother’s choice. She offered no timeline or additional information.

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