Monday, June 16, 2014

It is A Matter of Life and Death

This is from an email I received today from Dr. R. Scott Poppen at Doctors for America:
After spending 30 years in healthcare, I thought there was no story of bad luck and catastrophic illness that could touch me emotionally. But last summer, as I sat in a hearing room at the Utah State Capitol, I felt a tear well up in my eye.
I was listening to Emily, a woman in her 40’s, testify at the Governor’s Community Workgroup on Medicaid Expansion. In 2009, her 20+ year job with a software developer was eliminated when the Great Recession hit. A few months later she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. About the time her surgery was completed, the COBRA insurance she purchased had ended. She was unemployed, uninsurable, and was unable to afford the recommended adjuvant radiation and chemotherapy.
Now, 4 years after her initial diagnosis, her breast cancer had returned and was widely metastatic. In the meantime, she found employment with another company. But that company didn't offer health benefits and she was uninsurable due to her pre-existing condition. Her job earnings made her ineligible for Medicaid and she was the sole caretaker for her parents. She couldn’t afford to see any doctors.
One hour after her testimony I walked into a subcommittee meeting. As our workgroup gathered, we solemnly discussed Emily’s poignant testimony. One committee member, a Utah State legislator and vehement opponent of Medicaid expansion, commented, “We really don’t need to hear anymore testimony like this.” I was stunned.
One year later that legislator is still opposed to Medicaid expansion. His comment still haunts me.
I was sad to learn from news reports that Emily had died. She did finally get on Medicaid. When she became too ill to work, Medicaid enrolled her and provided the hospice care that hopefully eased her passing.
Twenty-four states still have not expanded Medicaid. Doctors for America is actively working in many of these states to get their governors and legislatures to do the right thing and increase access to health care for the working poor. Your donation to Doctors for America helps us do that work and honors the memory and courage of Emily.     

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