Health care is a basic human right, not a privilege. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves as Americans to be fooled into accepting that one must be blessed with “means” to actuate appropriate health care. As a nation we have failed to realize that our health care system is a barometer of our society’s value for human life.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Last Night's Town Legislative Forum

So yesterday evening was my big “day”. I had the opportunity to share “my story” with Minnesota state legislators, or more correctly “Gracie’s story” in regards to losing her secondary Medicaid coverage beginning January 2008 because our income will no longer qualify her for coverage.

Legislators in attendance were Larry Haws, Larry Hosch, Tarryl Clark, Steve Gottwalt, and Dan Severson. Other local elected officials that attended were Stearns County Commissioner Dewayne Mareck and Saint Cloud City Council member Bob Johnson.

You can read more about this town forum here.

The reporter of this article did not capture the message my story emphasized. I expressed the need to increase the income and asset standards for Medicaid so more people could qualify. Even with health coverage, I explained that because of chronic conditions in my family, we are forced into poverty to pay for these conditions and we are just barely over the 150% of poverty limit for Medicaid eligibility. I know that my story is not singular, but is just one of many stories like it. Families need the additional coverage and security that Medicaid allows, especially when their children have chronic health conditions. With the trend of higher co-pays, high premiums, and high deductibles, having commercial health insurance is less and less meaningful, especially for lower and middle income families.

After the forum, I was approached by several people to thank me for telling my story. I was also asked to tell my story at the capitol (Saint Paul, where all the MN state legislative “magic” happens) next year. Apparently there is a bill that has been written, but not passed, that will do just what my story emphasized the need for: Raise the income and asset limits for Medicaid eligibility.

I don’t know how often or how strongly I can emphasize the need for all of us to tell their story to legislators. Without the human perspective a personal story lends, legislation is cold and made without regard to the humans it affects. You better believe that your legislators are being inundated by powerful lobbying from corporations with the money to back their requests. But last night, from legislators, I heard over and over again how important the personal stories of their constituents are. If we do not tell our stories to them, if you do not share the victories and trials you face in social programs, how can our legislators truly make informed choices in their votes?

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