To: Legislative Fiscal Analyst Office Dropbox,
Subject: Do it for the disabled community: comment on Medicaid Expansion/UAP
Date: Thu Oct 08 06:10:15 MDT 2015
My name is Stacy Stanford; I am studying Disability Justice on a full-ride scholarship at Westminster College, I own a small online business,and I am one of 53,000 Utahns in the Medicaid coverage gap.
A little over five years ago I was in a car accident, which triggered a degenerative neurological disorder (the exact diagnosis of which I do not know, since I cannot afford diagnostic tests). Since then I have lived with increasing pain and decreasing mobility (I now use a wheelchair), with a slew of other problematic symptoms.
Unfortunately I lost my job—and my health insurance—shortly after becoming ill. That left me living below poverty, without access to specialists, tests, or necessary therapies and medications. So, like many Utahns, I am stuck. I cannot qualify for disability Medicaid without a concrete diagnosis, and I do not qualify for subsidies on thehealthcare.gov exchange because I do not earn enough money.
And I know I am not alone.
If at least 40% of Americans have a chronic illness, and 20% are disabled (according to the CDC), then we can presume that a similar percentage of Utah’s coverage gap also are sick and disabled.
In fact, I have met many others like me.
Over the summer, I worked as an intern for the Utah Health Policy Project, where I conducted interviews with individuals in the coverage gap. I didn’t know exactly what to expect—but rather than finding a “100% able-bodied population”—like healthcare opponents like to claim—I rarely spoke to someone WITHOUT a chronic health condition.
I spoke to Angela, a woman with severe fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
I met Shauna, a woman with lupus, and her adult daughter, who is on the autism spectrum—both of whom were uninsured.
I met Mark, a gentleman with Wegeners Disease, an autoimmune disorder. In him, this illness had presented with severe kidney damage, lung damage, mobility impairment, hearing loss, and even a stroke.
I spoke with two individuals with cancer—neither was sure if they would be able to receive any treatment for their life-threatening conditions.
I spoke with two men with serious back injuries.
I met a women who was caring for her husband after a major stroke—both of them were uninsured.
And this went on and on and on.
Implementing a plan to insure the 50,000+ Utahns in the coverage gap would, without a doubt, benefit Utah’s disabled and chronically ill.
Healthcare opponents claim that Medicaid expansion would harm the disabled community – but they do not speak for the disabled people or disability organizations in the state—which overwhelmingly support a plan to close the coverage gap.
So, as a disabled person—allow me to speak for myself, (and maybe my peers):
We need healthcare. We need Utah Access Plus.
157 Downington Ave
SLC, UT 84115