Letter to the editor: Expand Medicaid

To the editor:

“I finished my week of chemotherapy,” Julio said, brushing his long gray locks out of his worn face and gentle eyes. “Yes, I have leukemia”

Lately, I have been talking to guests at the Lawrence Community Shelter.

While I was visiting with Julio, people kept coming through the door bearing gifts: socks, coats, toys.

I kept thinking about Julio. The greatest gift he could receive would be his health.

Julio, like thousands of Kansans, has no health insurance. I asked how it felt when he was denied care because he couldn’t afford it: “Terrible. I felt like a misfit, an outsider. It’s awful for your self-esteem,” he said.

This year the Kansas Legislature will consider a bill that would expand Medicaid coverage for Julio and 150,000 other Kansans. Federal law allows states to expand coverage to individuals and families earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level. Kansas’ current income limit is just 38%.

Two years ago, while fishing in a mountain stream, I slipped on a rock and fell over a waterfall. I fractured two vertebrae in my neck.

Where would I have been without doctors, nurses and EMTs who came to my rescue? We all need access to health care.

I keep thinking about Julio. The greatest Christmas present we could give him this year would be to give him his dignity back.

For Julio’s sake and thousand of Kansans like him, we need to expand Medicaid now.

Peter A Luckey,

Lawrence

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