Lost in the Medicaid expansion debate are the stories of Virginians who would gain much-needed stability and relief if lawmakers choose to expand. The Healthcare for All Virginians coalition put these stories front and center at a packed, press conference Tuesday morning.
Two hard-working Virginians shared emotional stories about life without access to affordable quality health care. You can see some of the coverage at The Richmond Times-Dispatch or the Virginian-Pilot.
Alison Cardin, a working mother of three, shook as she recounted being unable to afford medication to control a seizure disorder, only to have a seizure while driving her nine-year old daughter. “Even though I knew I should take it, food for my children came first,” she explained. Thomasine Wilson, a home care provider for 15 years, recently got a job with health insurance and was eager to see a doctor for her first preventive care visit. The doctor discovered an early stage of cancer that was treatable. “I’m so very lucky. I don’t like to think of what would have happened if I had remained uninsured. It scares me.”
Lately, some Medicaid opponents have argued that the state’s free clinics could take care of people like Alison and Thomasine, leaving no need to expand Medicaid. If only the numbers added up. Speaking at the press conference, Neal Graham, Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Community Healthcare Association, noted that free clinics had to turn away over 10,000 uninsured Virginians in 2012.
More often than not, big decisions come down to courage. Alison and Thomasine had the courage to tell their stories to a room full of strangers. Lawmakers need to show the same courage and expand Medicaid without delay.