Ashley Flores & Adriana Larsen
Ashley, 26, and Adriana, 34, are sisters and have both lived in Colorado their whole lives. Ashley is an assistant and Adriana works in sales and marketing. Both work full time. Their mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's and dementia at the age of 57 and now lives in a nursing home in Boulder. Before she moved to there, Adriana, a mother of two young daughters herself, was the primary caretaker of her mother.
Why is Medicaid important to you?
Ashley: "Without it we wouldn't be able to take care of our mom. Adriana was taking care of her before we were able to get her into a nursing home, but her needs just got too much for us to handle. Without Medicaid we wouldn't be able to address any of her needs. She's in a wheelchair now and our homes aren't set up for that. It's a lot safer for her to be in a place that can take care of her needs."
Adriana: "Mom was living with me for four and a half years. My goal was to keep her with her as long as we possibly could, as long as it was safe. But it got to a point where she really needed a lot more skilled nursing; not only 24-hour care but actual skilled nursing care. She wasn't safe, because Parkinson's' patients stumble and fall. At that point we had to start applying for Medicaid. And it's been really great. In the nursing home they are doing a lot of things like physical and occupational therapy for her that we couldn't afford to do when she was living with me and wasn't yet on Medicaid. So, we're thankful for Medicaid."
How has Medicaid helped you personally?
Adriana: "It's not just about the person that receives the Medicaid, it's also about the caregivers. Medicaid definitely allowed me to go back to work. It helped out with family dynamics. I've got two young children. And it was hard for them and they didn't really understand what was happening. All they understand is that mom's not putting me to bed because mom's putting grandma to bed. It's more than a full time job."
Ashley: "Medicaid gives a sense of security, because we know that my mom's being taken care of. We also get parts of our life back, it's not full time taking care of her and making sure she's okay. It lets us have a life, have jobs, have free time, and get to spend time with our families."
What would happen to you or your family if you lost your Medicaid coverage?
Ashley: "We would have to quit working. I wouldn't even know what would happen to my mom. We are in no way set up to take care of her at all. I don't know how we would address any of her health care issues. We wouldn't be able to. It is so expensive. I don't even know what we would do."
Adriana: "My whole family may become homeless if I quit working. And I might go crazy. You don't want to think about what would happen without it. Your life would be ruined."
What would you say to people who claim that our state can't afford to pay for Medicaid anymore?
Adriana: "I would say, what are your solutions? I hear a lot of people say that, but there are no solutions. It's really easy for the legislators to say let's get rid of Medicaid, since they themselves have a nice cushy insurance plan that's covered by us, the tax payers. If they didn't' have a huge salary, where would they be? As far as I'm concerned, in the economy salaries are not matching what could pay for that kind of care. Right now I'm not seeing any solutions. I'm just seeing selfishness. The legislators don't want to take care of their constituents."
Ashley: "There's absolutely no way to afford that kind of care on your own. Everyone deserves good care. It's a basic human right."