‘I could never afford the medicines I get through Medicaid’


March 3, 2017

Editor’s note: Congress is considering repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and is debating major structural changes, and perhaps significant cuts, to Medicaid, which serves 74 million Americans. Voices for Human Needs is reaching out and telling the stories of those who could be harmed if the ACA is repealed without a suitable replacement or if Medicaid is significantly scaled back.
Bobby Hogans, 46 years old, has held many jobs over the years. He is now a vendor for StreetWise Chicago, which is both a magazine and a workforce development agency designed to fight poverty. At first, he did not want to be interviewed, but when I explained to him it was a chance for him to speak for himself and others in situations such as his, he agreed wholeheartedly to an interview.

“Sometimes I work a couple of days a week, but more often it is a few times a month. Much of what I have been hired to do is watch cement harden overnight on construction jobs.

“I also sell StreetWise Chicago (a weekly magazine) on the city’s street corners.

“None of the jobs I do cover me for health insurance. I am on Medicaid and I’m very fearful I might lose it because of what they are doing in Washington.

“Other jobs I’ve held were working security for buildings, construction sites and cleaning up after people. One job was cleaning up the garbage after the games at Soldier Field and shoveling snow in the winter.

“The reason I can’t hold down a regular job is that I suffer from mental illness. I get severely depressed and have anxiety.

“When I am hit by depression, I can’t get up in the morning. I just can’t do it. Even when I am taking my medicine, it takes me a long time to get up.

“I feel like everybody is out to get me and that they’re scheming against me and they will take it out on me.

“I have a family, but they split up and it had a very sad ending.

“I’m trying to get better, to move forward, to get to the next level, to not have to go to a homeless shelter.

“I have quit smoking and drinking.

“You got to have hope and I hope to get better.

“I don’t know what I’ll do if they cut back on Medicaid and I can no longer get my medicines. They keep me from thinking everyone is plotting and scheming against me. They help keep me on an even keel.

“I just don’t know what I would do because I could never afford the medicines I get through Medicaid. I would go back to having suicidal thoughts and violent rages.”

Do you have a health care story you’d like to share with Voices for Human Needs? Do you know someone who depends on the ACA or Medicaid for health care coverage? We’d love to hear from you! You can share your story here.

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