A dozen people testify before state lawmakers about the need for Medicaid expansion

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - The federal government wants to give Utah million of dollars to expand Medicaid in the state, but many lawmakers don't want the money and those that do can't seem to agree on how to spend it. Thursday night 12 people who could desperately use the coverage shared their stories with lawmakers in the hopes of coming to a compromise.


"The doctor walked in and shut the door and said the ten words that now separate my life into two distinct periods, 'you have cancer. It's malignant so it's the scary kind,’” explained Charlotte Lawrence.


That was June 15th 2012. Charlotte, the single mother of four children and full-time student at the time, didn't have health insurance and fell $400 short of qualifying for Medicaid. So she got a job, any job with insurance.


"I was making $10/hr grossing $1600 a month after the insurance I was paying through my employer it was less than a thousand dollars a month,” said Lawrence.


In order to pay for the insurance, she got another job. Now Lawrence’s cancer is back, but she can't afford to take the time off to get the chemo.


She's not alone; several others in the room had similar stories of illnesses that they have and medical bills they can't pay.


It wasn't just those without health coverage who spoke before lawmakers. A family practitioner came forward with several stories of friends and patients who are sick and some dying because of lack of care.


Dr. Ray Ward testified before lawmakers saying, "I'm here to tell you about John Cann who has non-Hodgkin lymphoma (tears)…cut off because he turned 19.">


Dr. Ward says most of those who need Medicaid aren't looking for a handout but rather a life-line.


"Most of the people that I know that need Medicaid are working, a part time job or two part-time jobs,” said Dr. Ward.


People like Charlotte. She said, "I'm doing everything I possibly can and honestly I’m killing myself.”

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