Giving a Voice to the Vulnerable

February 19, 2018 Providence Health Team


Nisha and Randy Morris and their daughter Nathasha are a regular California family. Except when Nathasha falls asleep, she stops breathing. Because of a very rare genetic condition, 9-year-old Nathasha relies on medical equipment to keep her alive when she is sleeping. The family has good health insurance, but the cost of nursing support and equipment is just too big. That’s where Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program) comes in, and the family is grateful for the in-home services that help Nathasha live a more typical kid’s life at school and with her friends. Nisha says, “We are not poor. But we are vulnerable. We are a real family that has real needs.”

You might be surprised to learn who is covered by Medicaid. They may be children like Nathasha, who has a rare condition that requires specialized medical care. They are likely people you know – loved ones, neighbors or work friends. The Many Faces of Medicaid is a place for these families and individuals to share what Medicaid has meant to them. Some have needed help getting care in the past and some, like Nathasha, depend on Medicaid today.

Our organization believes that everyone should have access to the care they need for their health and well-being. Rod Hochman, M.D., president and CEO of Providence St. Joseph Health says, “We created The Many Faces of Medicaid to help those who are often very vulnerable tell their stories about the importance of having coverage for their care. We’ve been deeply moved by how many have said that Medicaid has been a safety net, sometimes saving their lives.”

Who depends on Medicaid

Across the U.S., Medicaid covers care and services for more than 72 million people. In the seven western states served by Providence Health & Services, about 20 million children and adults depend on Medicaid for their care. “As a mission-driven organization, we are proud to be a leading provider of Medicaid hospital care in the communities and regions we serve across Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington,” says Dr. Hochman. “Each day our caregivers see the faces of Medicaid in our hospitals, clinics and other locations.”

Coverage for babies and children with disabilities

The Many Faces of Medicaid reflects an amazing variety of people who have benefited from Medicaid coverage. Medicaid can be a temporary helping hand, filling the gap while people get on their feet after a devastating life or health change. For others, it is a dependable part of their lives. For example, the program supports special services for millions of children with a disability or medical condition, like Nathasha. In fact, four out of 10 children in this country are covered by Medicaid, along with 50 percent of all births.

Help for frail seniors, veterans and mental health concerns

Rhonda Medows, M.D., executive vice president of population health, outlines some of the ways that Medicaid responds to profound health needs in all the communities served by our family of organizations, including Providence Health & Services. “Many are not aware that Medicaid is the largest provider of mental health services in the U.S., and provides treatment for three out of 10 people struggling with opioid addiction. Our seniors also depend on Medicaid, including 65 percent of those in nursing homes. Another little-known fact is that nearly one in 10 veterans have Medicaid coverage.”

Working people too

More recently, Medicaid has provided affordable coverage for lower-income working people. This closes a gap for millions who work but don’t have employer insurance or don’t make enough money to afford private insurance. “Medicaid is an essential safety net that supports the vulnerable through every stage of life, and it is vital to creating healthier communities,” says Dr. Medows.

“Each person we serve is part of our human family, and each one deserves access to care,” says Dr. Hochman. “We are standing by those who have Medicaid coverage and giving them a voice.” For millions, Medicaid has made a real difference. With regular care, they are all hopeful for the future.

Visit the Many Faces of Medicaid site to read Nathasha’s and other stories, or to share your own story of what Medicaid means to you.

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.


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