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Improving Access to Health Care – Medicaid Expansion is a Crucial Part of the Solution

For a while, my friend had been experiencing a shortness of breath and some nausea. But they didn’t think much of it, imagining it was likely because of the choking smoke that had drifted over Wyoming from the western wildfires for most of the summer. And, there was the back-of-mind thought, “I don’t have health care insurance and can’t afford to see a doctor.”

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If you’re like me, you probably have a friend who doesn’t have health care insurance. There is a good chance they work a job that has no health benefits and are simply trying to make ends meet. And when they can’t quite make ends meet, health care insurance is left out of their budget.

My friend's income fell into a gap between qualifying for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act on one end and earning enough money to afford health care insurance. My friend – and an estimated 34,000 others in Wyoming – could directly benefit from Medicaid Expansion. Not only that, but anyone who pays taxes in Wyoming can benefit too. Medicaid Expansion keeps our small rural hospitals working, keeps health care workers doing what they do best, and ensures our state’s health care costs won’t drain Wyoming’s general fund.

Everyone Needs Health Care

“The American Heart Association supports expanding Medicaid because people living with low incomes are disproportionately affected by heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. Medicaid serves as the coverage backbone for the health care services these individuals need,” said Dr. Denise Hooks-Anderson, an assistant professor of family and community medicine at Saint Louis University and member of the AHA, according to Voices for Healthy Kids.

What is AHA Doing in Wyoming?

We are actively engaged in the fight to expand Medicaid in our beautiful state. We are working at the legislature and in collaboration with the Healthy Wyoming coalition on a variety of fronts. This included joining the coalition for September remembrance vigils around the state where people gathered to tell stories, share ideas, and bond with one another in the common purpose of making sure health care insurance is one of the ends everyone can meet in Wyoming, including your friends and my friends.

You can help! We have yard signs to show your support for health care insurance and encourage the legislature to do the right thing by all of us and vote to expand Medicaid. To get yours, email me at [email protected] or text Wyoming to 46839.

And What About My Friend?

It turns out my friend, a rideshare driver, is one of the lucky ones. In conversation with a customer, symptoms were shared. The customer persuaded my friend to go to an urgent care clinic, where they were referred to the emergency room and diagnosed with two blockages. A procedure was performed that was likely lifesaving.

With Medicaid Expansion, this could have turned out even better. 

My friend is doing better now, including watching their diet and committing to exercise more. They recently attended one of the statewide vigils for Medicaid Expansion, and even better, will contact legislators and ask them to support Medicaid Expansion. My friend is doing this, and so can you. Please let your legislators know how vital it is everyone in Wyoming has access to health care insurance. Click on this link to find your senator and representative. Be strong, be caring, take action, and as we say at the AHA – Live Fierce!

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