'I am Medicaid' campaign aims to show lawmakers the humanity of what's at stake

Published: Apr. 21, 2016 at 2:47 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 21, 2016 at 3:00 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) - You've heard the warnings; a lack of Medicaid funding could force doctors to leave the state, hospitals to close, and many needy patients could be in jeopardy, but what exactly does that mean?

Over one million Alabamians are covered by Medicaid so the projected $85 million shortfall has created a dire situation for about 20 percent of our state.

A grassroots group is hoping the "I am Medicaid" campaign will show lawmakers the humanity of what's at stake.

Kerstin Moorer likes to go to the movies and go shopping. Her mother Mattisa, says the 14-year-old can get lost in Target for hours.

Mattisa takes online classes and works part time, "because she's full time it would be hard to survive and pay for her Pedia-Sure or her diapers," she said.

The 14-year-old suffers from Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy, relies on a feeding tube and is fully covered under Medicaid.

"We matter, that my daughter matters she's a constitute of the state as well," said Mattisa.

The $85 million Medicaid shortfall would devastate the Moorer family.

"I don't know how we could make it," said Mattisa.

Without the assistance of Medicaid, the Moorer's would be looking at $75 a week in diapers and $12 a day for a six-pack of Pedia-Sure. Not to mention having to rebuild a 14-year relationship with a new team of doctors if Kerstin's physicians were forced to close their doors.

"There are faces behind Medicaid, my daughter is one of them," said Mattisa.

It's stories like Kerstin's that have been missing from the conversation according to the Policy Director at Alabama's Arise.

"I think the fact that we're even having this debate is sending a negative message to the very people that depend on this program for their daily health, and we're telling them we're going to toy with your healthcare and we just don't that's acceptable," said Jim Carnes, Alabama Arise Public Policy Director.

Groups like Alabama Arise and Children First hope lawmakers look beyond the budget and give meaning to the numbers.

"There are Alabamians out there that really need healthcare services, and when we have debates like this there are faces behind the numbers people you may know, you may not even realize Medicaid affects them but it does and we need to keep the humanity in this situation," said Christy Cain, Executive Director for Children First.

Both Carnes and Cain point to cigarette tax legislation as a possible solution to the shortfall.

"We just don't see the willpower to step up to this challenge and we're trying to show that it's more than an issue of who's willing to put up a little bit more in taxes, this is a matter of are we willing to fund basic services in Alabama," said Carnes.

The budget has already passed but lawmakers are still trying to find a funding solution.

The first of several meetings on the topic was held Wednesday and the group plans to meet over the summer.

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