Supporters Donate to Octuplets' Web Site, California Could Foot Hospital Bill

The public relations firm representing Nadya Suleman, mother of the famous California octuplets, launched a Web site that allows visitors to donate to the family.

"The response has been excellent," Mike Furtney, a spokesman for the family, told ABC News. According to Furtney, "hundreds" of people have generously responded.

"Actually, a farmer in the Midwest said, 'They can live with us,'" Furtney said. "There have been many similar spots."

Others, he said, have been "very direct and vocal" with criticism.

"We understand that people will not agree with us ... [but] this is a nation known for its charitable behavior, generosity and tolerance. We hope people that share that thought will work with us to help Nadya and the children."

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The Web site, called the Nadya Suleman Family Web site, lists the pictures, names and weights of all eight newborns and allows supporters to donate money directly online or send items to a Los Angeles address provided by Suleman's public relations representative, the Killeen Furtney Group.

"We thank you from the bottom of our hearts," reads a note on the Web site from "Nadya Suleman and children." "[The babies] are all healthy and growing stronger by the day."

The Web site's launch comes after reports emerged concerning the staggering financial burden the octuplets' family may lay on the state of California, including a possible $1 million hospital bill.

Suleman's octuplets, born Jan. 26, are expected to stay in the hospital for several weeks under close watch before being released.

The bill is the latest facet of the growing controversy surrounding the octuplets' birth that also includes accusations by the octuplets' grandfather that their mother falsified birth certificates by listing a fake name, David Solomon, as the kids' father.

Falsifying birth certificates is a felony, punishable by a maximum of three years in jail.

Like the Babies, Costs Multiply

Premature babies cost an average of 15 times more that full-term babies in their first year of life, generally accruing more than $40,000 in bills for extended hospital stays, more outpatient visits and generally more medical needs, according to a 2005 report by the March of Dimes.

March of Dimes medical director Dr. Alan Fleischman expects Suleman's record-breaking eight babies, who were born nine weeks premature, to ring up a hospital medical bill "somewhere between $700,000 and $1 million."

It's a bill that could fall on the state of California, which is $42 billion in debt.

Suleman's octuplets qualify for Medi-Cal, the state's health-care program for the poor, meaning the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Bellflower, where the octuplets are staying, can request reimbursement for treatment. According to the Los Angeles Times, they've done just that.

"With our economy the way it is, with California going to hell in a handbasket, why should I be excited about this?" one of Suleman's neighbors, an 87-year-old woman, told "Good Morning America" a few days after the babies' birth.

Under Medi-Cal, Kaiser Permanente could already be eligible for around $150,000, conservatively, for the babies' stay so far, not including delivery that included 46 staff members and four delivery rooms, the Times reported. If they stay for 12 weeks, which is a possibility, that number is likely to climb north of $800,000.

Coming Home Costs Octuplet Family Too, in Money and Attention

Suleman, who was already a single mother of six before her octuplets were born, is also eligible for federal assistance of more than $1,900 per month because three of her six children are disabled.

Despite the mounting price tags, Suleman said on the "Today Show" that she is "providing for [her] children."

"I'm responsible. I am not on welfare," she said, although she told NBC's "Today Show" this week that she has been receiving $490 in food stamps every month. "I feel it is my responsibility to do what I can to provide for my children."

Furtney told ABC News today that Suleman plans to begin some kind of "business or enterprise that will allow her to get what she needs without needing to rely on state or federal funding."

Dr. Charles Sophy, the medical director of Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, cautioned that giving birth to octuplets would put eight times as much stress on a single mother and pose a daunting task in terms of rearing.

"It costs money to raise children," he said. "To raise these kids is probably going to cost about $2.5 million, just to give them basics. That is not baseball lessons or piano lessons. That is food, clothing or getting to school every day; that is a lot of money."

The Department of Children and Family Services worries that, in a house of 14, there will be a lack of attention or that the children will be at higher risk of abuse or neglect.

Some critics, such as Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, are calling on social services to investigate the family now for the sake of the children.

"The L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services can investigate if a complaint is made, if there is neglect, if there is child endangerment, if there is cause," family rights activist and attorney Gloria Allred told "Good Morning America." "We don't have any facts to support that right now and the octuplets are still in the hospital. We don't know what's going to happen when they come home. Are they going to come home to that three-bedroom home that the other six are living in?"

The octuplets' grandmother Angela Suleman told Radaronline.com that her daughter has "no means to support" her 14 children and that she never contributed rent or food money. She also never told her mother about the more than $167,000 records show she received in disability payments after she was injured in 1999.

Ironically, the mounting controversy over Suleman's ability to support her large family may provide the much-needed capital.

"Has she sold photos, interviews? Has she sold film of the babies?" Allred asked, alluding to the significant monetary value that media attention can bring to such items. "Are there going to be donations? We just don't know what's going to happen, but I think everyone in the public, I know I am, is very concerned about the safety, the welfare, the health, the conditions of the children and how their needs are going to be met."

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