Expansion Of Medicaid Helps The Working Poor - And Response

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I'm a retired primary care doctor with my own disease - lupus. I am grateful that Medicare exists for me. I had two medical "lives" in Chattanooga. One was my private office, where the only folks who came in had some form of insurance, be it private, Medicare or Medicaid. The other was at the community health centers, where we cared for those who had no insurance or couldn't afford expensive co-pays or needed the other services offered at the centers.  

I was exposed repeatedly to lovely people whose work lives ended prematurely because they hadn't received proper care. Preventive care like you get when you have decent health insurance finds and treats a multitude of problems before they make you disabled. You control the high blood pressure and prevent the stroke; you diagnose the diabetes before it leads to an early heart attack; you treat common infections before they spread. 

The inexpensive, smart way to keep people healthy and working - get them preventive care, teach them to care for themselves, treat problems early. With the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) we have a chance to do that-have affordable, responsible insurance. Expansion of our Medicaid with the federal funds available would do that for 600,000 more of the working poor in Tennessee. I hope Governor Haslam will take the long view and make this commitment for our people. 

Essie Woods Bruell
Chattanooga 

* * * 

It is very refreshing to see physicians championing the efforts of the Affordable Care Act and what it can mean for underserved patients. After working as an oncology nurse for several years and now as a wound care nurse I have also seen firsthand what a lack of decent medical and preventive care can do to people.  

Watching a 37-year-old woman be discharged home with Hospice care for cervical cancer that might not have ended her life had she had preventive care is an image that will stay with me forever. Witnessing the death of someone young from malignant melanoma that might not have happened had they been screened and educated is also something I will never forget.  

In my current practice I see countless patients with chronic, non-healing wounds all because of other diseases like diabetes, congestive heart failure and vascular disease that weren't managed for a variety of reasons but most of which are lack of insurance, money and education. 

The Affordable Care Act may not be a perfect solution to our country's healthcare dilemma but it is a start. I hope that I continue to see others like these physicians and myself who show support for the possibility of a positive change. These physicians are on the front lines and first-hand knowledge of the workings of our healthcare system. Their input and experience is invaluable. 

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