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Appalachian residents share health care stories with launch of digital Medicaid storybook

Appalachians for Medicaid has released a collection of digital stories from Kentuckians and other Appalachians whose lives have been positively impacted by the Medicaid program.

The online storybook features stories from people with Medicaid coverage, health care providers, and enrollment assisters living in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and West Virginia that have seen improvements in their lives and in their communities because of Medicaid.

The storybook highlights how Medicaid has helped eastern Kentuckians get lifesaving health treatment and peace of mind, including cancer screenings, mental health and substance use treatment, home health care, and more.

Appalachians for Medicaid is a joint project between Kentucky Voices for Health, the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, UHCAN Ohio, West Virginians for Affordable Health Care and Community Catalyst. The collection of organizations are joining together to lift up the health care stories and lived experiences of Appalachians and highlight the positive impact Medicaid has had on enrollees, health care providers, and on state and local economies in the Appalachian region.

“You’ve gotta take care of everybody, not just those that can afford it, but those that can’t,” said Vickie Damron of Pike County, a KVH Appalachian Storyteller. “Medicaid is so needed. I can’t imagine the country functioning without it.”

Approximately 1.6 million Kentuckians have health care coverage through Medicaid, the nation’s health insurance program for people with low income. The Medicaid program meets the health coverage needs of people with low income, children, pregnant people, older adults, and people with disabilities, as is highlighted in the stories shared in this storybook.

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“Medicaid saves lives and is making our region a healthier place overall. I wish everyone could have Medicaid and never have to worry about a doctor’s visit for themselves, their children or their loved ones ever again. This storybook is key in spotlighting the humanity behind the numbers,” said Cara Stewart, Director of Policy Advocacy for KVH and a native of Floyd County. “The Medicaid storybook is only a snapshot, a small preview of the individuals being positively impacted by Medicaid in Kentucky and throughout all of Appalachia.”

Kentucky is among the states involved in the creation of this storybook that has expanded Medicaid, allowing people whose household income is below 138 percent of the federal poverty line to gain health care coverage, however, Tennessee has yet to do so. Therefore, very few adults with low income are eligible for health care coverage through Medicaid directly south of us, but there continue to be efforts in Tennessee to also achieve expanded Medicaid.

“These are people who have a job, who have a family, whose wages haven’t changed in years, but the cost of living is going up every year,” said Mike Wynn of Grace Health in Corbin. “I want every American to be able to go get healthcare. That’s a dream of mine.”

To see Vickie’s, Mike’s or other storyteller’s videos, visit the the full storybook at appalachiansformedicaid.org.

From Kentucky Voices for Health

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