(WIAT) — It’s one step at a time for Karen Jones.
Karen Jones, a Medicaid expansion advocate, said, “When I kept trying to get up I would fall, after getting to the emergency room she told me that ‘you’ve had a stroke,’ I was like, ‘a stroke?’”
Today Jones faces a range of health issues.
Jones explained, “I have a heart problem, I have epilepsy, nephropathy, fibromyalgia, arthritis…”
Jones has no insurance and receives charitable services from Medical Outreach Ministries.
Betty Fitzgerald, a nurse at Medical Outreach Ministries said, “We provide basic medical care to those who are uninsured.”
For 25 years Medical Outreach Ministries have helped people without health insurance. Fitzgerald says some of their patients travel more than 50 miles to seek treatment.
Fitzgerald, said, “Our patients come first, the focus is our patient.”
Democratic lawmakers are in favor of Medicaid expansion.
Senator Malika Sander-Fortier (D) Selma, said, “It’s important for people on both sides of the aisles. We have hospitals in rural communities that are closing.”
Republican lawmakers are against expanding Medicaid but say they are willing to look at other options to save rural healthcare.
Greg Reed, (R) Jasper, said, “A lot of the issues in rural Alabama is you do not have medical professionals that are available.”
To attract more healthcare professionals to rural areas, the Alabama Board of Nursing is offering student loan forgiveness up to $15,000.
Peggy Benson, Executive director Alabama Board of Nursing explained, “It’s all about recruiting to the rural communities, and helping those people get the nurses to take care of the patients that are needed.”
Many believe expanding Medicaid would solve Alabama’s hospital crisis and the calls to do so continue to grow; however, expanding Medicaid does not appear to be a priority this legislative session.