Medicaid Offers Outstanding Care and Saves LivesPosted November 27th, 2012 by Gail Schimmelpfennig
Last year, during the debt ceiling negotiations, I stood up to protect Medicaid from being cut. This year, as the fiscal cliff is looming, I am back once more to share my story and to, yet again, prevent drastic cuts to Medicaid.
As part of Congress’ wide-ranging negotiations about the budget, tax rates and the deficit, some members of Congress have signaled that they will demand long-term structural changes to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security as part of any deal.
But my family – and millions of families like mine – know that Medicaid provides critical health coverage for millions of children and adults.
My 32-year-old daughter receives healthcare coverage through Medicaid because she has fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, both of which cause severe pain in the joints and surrounding tissues, and are disabling. Because my daughter can’t work, my granddaughter also receives health coverage through Medicaid.
Medicaid was available to me when I battled breast cancer.
I have spent most of my adult life uninsured because my husband was self-employed and did not make enough money to pay for private insurance for our family and his workers. Unfortunately, the worst case scenario happened to us.
I knew something felt “wrong” in my breast, but I had no insurance. I knew that even if we could scrape together enough money for a mammogram, we couldn’t afford any treatments. Also, I worried that a cancer diagnosis would be considered a “pre-existing condition” keeping us from gaining healthcare coverage in the future. So I ignored my symptoms for two years.
Finally, my husband heard something on TV about free mammograms offered by the Department of Health, and I went for it. Yes, it was breast cancer. Yes, it was invasive. And yes, treatment was paid for by Medicaid.
Medicaid, literally, saved my life. My cancer was stage 1, treated by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormones. It’s now been 10 years since my diagnosis. I’m grateful to be alive. I would never have chosen my own treatment over making house payments. My family is more important than my life. Today I’m grateful to have both.
My coverage under Medicaid ended after I was successfully treated for breast cancer. I continue to receive follow-up mammograms through my county’s health department. But I will never forget the care I received through Medicaid and its compassionate doctors, who were all truly outstanding.
But the clock is ticking for other moms and families who rely on Medicaid. It is once again in danger of facing drastic cuts. Medicaid is a lifeline to many mom and families and Congress needs to hear that from me and from you.
And share your story and those of hundreds of families like yours by delivering a book of MomsRising stories directly to your local member of Congress. Find out more about this here.
Gail Schimmelpfennig is a MomsRising.org member in Sandy, Utah.