It’s time for me to share a story. No, this one doesn’t have handsome princes or fairy godmothers waving magic wands. Although I wish it did. That would be so much easier.
This is my Medicaid story, and I want to share it in order to put a human face behind the debates. One of the so many faces that would be negatively affected by the health care bill that the Senate is about to vote on. I can only pray it doesn’t pass.
I applied for Medicaid in the summer of 1991. I was still in college and about to be ineligible to be on my dad’s health insurance. When I applied, I had the same philosophy I did when I was applying for Supplemental Security Income. (SSI) “This is just for now, I told myself, “because it isn’t possible for me to get a part-time job at McDonald’s for extra money like most of my friends were doing. When I get a full-time job, I will get on a group insurance plan (because I was uninsurable otherwise) and I won’t need this extra help. I won’t need SSI at that point anymore either. This situation is completely temporary. When I get a job, I will pay taxes back into the system that provided me so much support.” That was the plan…
Life got in the way.
I had a surgery that was done incorrectly, and many subsequent surgeries to fix the damage that was done by the first one. I was in a car wreck on the way home from work one day. The paratransit driver did not strap my wheelchair into the floor of the bus correctly. When he hit the brakes, I hit the floor and my wheelchair landed on top of me. I ended up with a permanent soft tissue injury in my back. It is difficult for me to sit in my wheelchair for long periods of time. Along the way, I lost my job. Then an accident in my kitchen resulted in serious burns to my left leg requiring dressing changes every day for several months.
Medicaid paid for it all.
I have never been lazy or glad that I am “living off the government.” Believe me, if it were physically possible for me to work 40 hours per week with some overtime thrown in, I would happily do so in a heartbeat. I would love to support myself without help from anyone. If only.
I don’t know where I would be without Medicaid coverage.
These days, in addition to some medication and my hospital bills (I had surgery to remove some pesky and painful kidney stones a few weeks back) Medicaid pays the salary of my caregivers and having caregiver support is what enables me to live in my own home and be a part of my community. Without that support, I could very easily be living in a nursing home. In that scenario, I could not work at the job I love or have my service dog, Leah, who can only be accurately described as part of my family.
I wasn’t born prematurely on purpose. Although I embrace my cerebral palsy, it wasn’t my choice. Nobody should fear living in a nursing home because a disability that has affected them since birth prevents them from driving and putting on their own shoes.
Do you want my story to have a good ending? Please call your senators and ask them to vote “No” on this health care bill.
I want to live happily ever after.
In my own home.