News & Politics

Medicaid Expansion Brings Not Just Medication, But Peace of Mind

While many more have been added to it's rolls, those in gap states still don't have the comfort of Medicaid coverage.

Obamacare's Medicaid expansion is bringing relief to a lot of people who've struggled without health insurance for years—at least in states where Republican lawmakers haven't blocked it. That means the coming years will see fewer cases like these, in West Virginia, where 75,000 have already enrolled in Medicaid:

One patient, a coal truck driver in his 30s with diabetes, came in for treatment whenever he was insured, which was not often. Last summer, he had a stroke after a stretch when he had no coverage; he now walks with a cane and cannot drive. Another patient, a woman with diabetes, is now legally blind because she could not find an endocrinologist who would treat her, or a lab that would run tests, without insurance, Ms. Justice said.

And for people like Sharon Mills, a disabled nurse with Type 1 diabetes who has suffered renal failure thanks to irregular access to medication, the sheer relief of having Medicaid has already been life-changing; she says "The heavy thing that was pressing on me is gone" and:

Last week, Ms. Mills used her Medicaid number for the first time to fill a prescription. It was a Wednesday, and she walked into Walmart feeling good.

“Now I’ve got insurance,” she said, “and I’m waving that piece of paper all over the place.”

Others, she said, seemed to have the same idea, judging by the line at the pharmacy. “It was plumb over to the pet department!”

That relief, and that ability to line up for a prescription, won't be found in Medicaid gap states like Texas and Florida, of course, and it will affect millions.

Laura Clawson is the Labor editor at Daily Kos Labor, and a contributing editor at Daily Kos.