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Where would my family be without Medicaid?

My husband Kenny Ritter died in September 2009 of Multiple System Atrophy-Cerebellar, a neurodegenerative disease. For some unknown reason, the brain connectors begin to disintegrate. The brain generates the messages but the systems of the body do not receive them. Long before his death, Kenny could not walk, speak audibly, digest food and his body could not regulate its temperature. He could not feed himself; if his head rolled off his pillow, he could not lift it to put it back. Like most victims of MSA-C, he suffered severe anxiety as well.

Luckily for us, we live in NY and Kenny was eligible for a Medicaid program called Long Term Home Healthcare. Medicaid paid for Kenny's Medicare premium, his copays and medicines, therapy and --thank God--aides to help me care for him a couple of hours a weekday. I had quit my job in the midst of his disease in order to take care of Kenny, and before the Medicaid kicked in, 100% of the care and raising our four children was squarely on me.

A wonderful social worker told me that 30 years ago, when she was studying geriatrics, the professors were talking about how we had to prepare for the time when the baby boomers became old. But now, we've discovered that the baby boomer generation is sicker than the previous generation. We have more cancers, degenerative and autoimmune diseases than our parents.

In other words, we need Medicaid.

During my Well Spouse days, I truly believed that the stress would kill me. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that my kids had already been through too much. If I had not had the financial support of Medicaid, not only would Kenny have suffered more pain and debility due to our lack of decent care and equipment. But I, too, would have been unable to continue to provide care by myself for him.

How can these politicians talk about family values? Caring for the most vulnerable amongst us is a value that should be primary for them.

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