Critical Need: Redesigning Medicaid in Idaho, #2

photo of a woman sitting at a restaurant smiling into the cameraRobin Evans, Grangeville. Together my husband and I share a newspaper delivery contract. Seven days a week, we wake up early to deliver newspapers to neighboring communities. In total we travel an average of 575 miles each week over rural mountain passes and all the papers must be delivered before most people wake up. For all our dedication and commitment , we earn less than $1000/ month.

Shortly after I return home from the delivery route, I prepare for my second part-time job, working in the cafeteria at the elementary school. Combined, these two part-time jobs still leave us without a living wage, without access to health care and without sufficient income to meet monthly expenses.

Our family lives on about $13,000, and for our family size our income falls under 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). In Idaho, we are not eligible for health care through the Medicaid program. We also do not qualify for any subsidies in the Health Care Exchange, as subsidies begin at 100% FPL. No access to health care for more than five years played it toll last year on our family and we have racked up hospital bills of more than $25,000 and health issues demanding access. My husband has been unable to work because of medical issues, for which he has no access.

A lack of a decent wage has put us in a precarious housing situation. We are grateful to the generosity of a fellow church member for a house to rent, even though we struggle and fall behind on rent. Still, we keep doing the best that they can to get through each month, relying on community food programs and prioritizing which bills to pay and what medications we can live without. Without access to health care, we are walking time bombs. It’s time to take action and close the coverage gap!

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