The writer, of Bellevue, is active in a new petition drive to place Medicaid expansion on the November ballot.
I owned and operated a photography business in Bellevue for almost 15 years. I loved capturing special memories for my clients, and I loved being self-employed.
However, health problems changed my life abruptly. Fibromyalgia has robbed me of both strength and stamina. Through the years since my diagnosis, my ability to work has been limited. There is little I can do about it, however, as, like approximately 90,000 other Nebraskans, I cannot afford health insurance because our state has not expanded Medicaid for hard-working people with low incomes.
I vowed from the start not to allow my health problems to define me. Now is the time to take action to ensure that thousands of other Nebraskans and I who are dealing with difficult circumstances can get the health care we need to have our best chance at a healthy life.
For six years our Legislature and two governors have failed to expand Medicaid, which would let people like us get much-needed medical care. I am supporting a new campaign called “Insure the Good Life,” to gather enough petition signatures this spring to put Medicaid expansion on November’s ballot and let Nebraska voters choose a healthier future for their family, friends and neighbors.
Everyone, young or old, rich or poor, must be able to have quality health coverage for themselves and their families. As I have learned the hard way, without our health, we have nothing. Our communities can no longer wait while our Nebraska lawmakers fail to solve this public health problem.
Nebraska is stronger when everyone has the best chance to be healthy. Making sure everyone can get health insurance is vital to Nebraska having a healthy workforce, a strong economy and thriving communities that leave no one behind.
You likely know someone like me because we are in your families and in your workplaces. We work on the farms that grow America’s food, and in the coffee shop where you stop for your morning eye-opener. We live just down the street and sit in front of you at church. We’re single parents or grandparents trying to give our families a better life.
Since closing my business in 2016, I have worked hourly jobs when I have been able to while living off my savings — funds which should have remained untouched for when I am older. As I write this, those continue to dwindle.
But I am tired of spending my time worrying about what could happen to me if faced with a medical emergency. Now I’m speaking out so that Nebraskans can make the choice themselves and so 90,000 uninsured people like me can have the hope for a healthier future.
Not having health insurance turns your life into a vicious cycle. If you can’t afford medications and treatment, you can’t get healthy. Most uninsured people, if they could afford care, could get better, get back to work and live the healthy life that every Nebraskan wants. In cases such as mine, the stress of worrying about finances and what-if medical emergency scenarios actually worsens my condition. It’s like spraying fuel onto a fire. Medicaid expansion is what we need to put the fire out.
It’s time to give Nebraska voters a better choice. By nature, we are a do-it-yourself people, so now we have the chance to make our voices heard. If you see someone with an “Insure the Good Life” petition, please add your name. We need roughly 85,000 signatures by July to put Medicaid expansion before voters like you this fall.
We can do what our lawmakers have chosen not to do: to give our neighbors, our co-workers, our fellow Nebraskans a chance at a healthier life.