The Human Side of Medicaid Changes

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Lynelle Harrell is a 55-year-old woman who has been on Medicaid for five years. She says she is afraid.

"I take 20-something prescriptions a month. I have some very severe health problems. Life-threatening. Medicaid pays for most of them now. I get generic. Medicare is not going to pay for those," Harrell said.

Harrell's medicine costs $1,400 per month, and her social security disability income is only $700. She said she pays $200 of her drug bill. Medicaid covers the rest.

"My doctors have told me that I am in very bad health, and that I am slowly dying anyway," Harrell said. "I am an insulin-dependent diabetic. I have three heart conditions. I have high blood pressure. I have what is called severe peripheral neuropathy and I am in pain 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Since getting her cancellation letter from the state, Harrell says she has tried to find help.

"I have done everything that senators, representatives, Gov. Barbour, Medicaid, has said to do. I have contacted all the pharmaceutical companies," Harrell said. "I have contacted organizations that are set up to help people like me and the help is not there."

If that doesn't change down the road, Harrell said she will be dead.

A small group calling itself "Friends of Lynelle" has formed to oppose changing Medicaid patients to Medicare only for persons like Lynelle Harrell.

"Word of mouth, I think, is one thing we have helped a little bit. Now how much that help is going to make a difference is another huge question," said Shoffiett. "But it's the only thing we know to do and we're all determined that we must do something."

Officials also advise against giving out your Medicaid numbers to anyone who calls you on the phone. It could involve a scam.