Deana Lucion: Don’t cut or cap Medicaid, a lifeline for so many

By By Deana Lucion

I am 21 weeks pregnant and get prenatal care because of Medicaid, which provides health care to almost one-third of West Virginians. Now our senators and President Donald Trump, who I voted for, want to take away Medicaid even though they promised to protect it — and us.

The health care repeal passed by the House of Representatives will kick 14 million people off Medicaid. It also will change the way the program works, putting caps on federal funding, instead of paying for care according to how much we need and use.

This repeal is about dollars and cents for the lawmakers who are up there eating filet mignon. It’s life and death for the rest of us.

If Sen. Capito and Sen. Manchin vote for these Medicaid cuts and caps, they’re voting to leave one-third of us to die off.

Without a good Medicaid plan, I’d have to have my baby here at home, with no prenatal care or coverage for delivery. I’d have to cross my fingers and hope my baby develops with no problem.

Now, I can go to Charleston for the echocardiogram my baby needs. I have to scrape the gas money together, but the procedure is covered. I was also able to get Medicaid to cover my blood clot medication, which costs $1,200 a shot.

Cutting Medicaid would mean no echocardiogram, even if I can fill the gas tank. It would mean just hoping my blood doesn’t clot. It would mean our entire fate is left up to chance.

It’s not just me I’m worried about. About half of us in McDowell County use Medicaid. Without it, we’re back to the days when health care was only for rich people, and poor and working people got absolutely nothing.

We already have little health care to speak of here. Recently, our local obstetrics clinic shut down because of a nursing shortage. I had to search for a new doctor — but I also think of all the women with cervical or uterine cancer who have nowhere to go.

Take away Medicaid, and it can only get worse. It will be a trickle-down effect, with fewer clinics, fewer doctors and fewer nurses.

I know what it’s like to lose Medicaid. My husband started working again in January, so, with that income, he and my son aren’t eligible anymore. Now my husband goes underground every night and has no insurance at all. It’s like playing with fire. My son plays football, and I worry. After my baby’s born, I won’t be eligible, either.

I want health care not just for me and my family but for every person in our country. I voted for President Trump thinking he’d bring us that. Instead, I see him wanting to take away our health care, our WIC and our food stamps, which we need to live.

When politicians say no one will be hurt by these Medicaid cuts, I say: Come live here for six months and we’ll see what you say about your vote. You’ll see that your vote caused people to die of cancer, mothers and babies to die in childbirth and people to die of drug overdoses.

I’m fighting for our health care and our lives. My husband says it’s a lost cause; the politicians will never put us first. But I want more opportunities for my kids. I also want them to know I stood up for something. Right now, I’m standing up for Medicaid.

If our senators care about us, they’ll stand up for Medicaid, too, and say no to any caps or cuts.

Deana Lucion lives in McDowell County.

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