Following the introduction of the Ohio Senate’s version of the state budget early last week, Governor Kasich issued a line-item veto later that same week for the provision which would freeze enrollment for the expanded Medicaid group come July 2018. It was then heavily rumored that the Ohio legislature would seek to override the veto.
With hundreds of thousands of lives depending on expanded Medicaid, representatives from Compass Community Health and The Counseling Center travelled to Columbus, Ohio yesterday to partake in a rally outside the statehouse. There, they showed their support for the cause alongside OACHC and representatives from other Federally Qualified Health Centers, as well as many other Medicaid advocates.
Among the group of representatives was Chuck Oliver, a counselor at TCC, who not only went in show of support, but also spoke to the large crowd about what Medicaid expansion meant for him. Oliver, who also spoke during last month’s press conference, explained that, because of expansion, he was able to enter addiction treatment services, receive treatment for chronic conditions he was unaware he had, and then attend school in order to become a counselor. As a result, he now pays it forward and sees how expansion makes a positive impact in the lives of the clients he serves each and every day. “Without expansion, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Oliver explained.
Other speakers included a retired mother who, due to divorce, was finding it difficult to provide for the needs of her mentally ill son. Through expansion, he was able to receive in-home care, counseling, and prescription coverage. She now worries what might happen if he were to lose access to the program.
Next, a provider told the story of a patient of who had lost her job due to the recession. Being diabetic, she was unable to afford the high cost of her prescriptions and would wind up in the ER when the need arose. Because of expansion, her diabetes is now under control and she has since re-entered the workforce.
He also spoke of a male patient who, because of an illness (and no coverage), wound up in the ER where they found a spot on his lung. He eventually received assistance through expansion and started seeing his primary care physician. Fortunately, they found the spot in question hadn’t progressed and was treatable.
He also stressed the cost saving measures of expanded Medicaid, as exemplified by his patient stories; when people can’t afford to go to a primary care provider, especially for chronic conditions, they seek care from Emergency Rooms which ends up costing everyone more.
The rally was a chance for Ohioans affected by expansion to share their stories publicly, as well as for others to show their support for the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who now have access to coverage thanks to expansion.
While each person’s experience with expansion is unique, one theme rings true among all the stories shared by yesterday’s speakers, as well as those stories shared by patients in exams rooms all across the state of Ohio, each and every day, and that is that expanded Medicaid saves lives.
If you are interested in helping advocate for quality affordable health coverage, sign up to be an advocate TODAY!
A big THANK YOU to Chuck for sharing his story!
BREAKING : Due to the commitment to advocacy in the past several days from Ohioans all across the state in the form of calls, emails, tweets, and more, as well as the presence at yesterday’s rally, the Ohio House of Representatives has decided to forego overriding Governor Kasich’s veto of the expansion freeze. While the discussion of an override is “pending” and there is talk of the Ohio House bringing the conversation back up this fall, it all indications are that your voice has been heard. Strong advocacy works and you all are to thank for making a difference in the lives of not only the patients and clients of CCH and TCC but those of Ohioans all across the state.