Young adults caught in Medicaid coverage gap

Published On: Apr 09 2013 01:17:59 PM EDT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

Pressure for state lawmakers to accept federal money to expand Medicaid is mounting.

Young adults who are too old for Medicaid and too poor to buy their own coverage are in Tallahassee asking for help.

Donya Marshall's daughter Chloe has DiGeorge syndrome. She and her husband both work. Both have insurance, but they still can't pay Chloe's medical bills. So Medicaid does.

"Without Medicaid in our lives, we would not have been able to take her to so many appointments so many times a week," Marshall said.

Then there's Geosel Robles, who has muscular dystrophy. He works. He goes to college. And he recently celebrated a bitter birthday.

"On his 18th birthday, he got a birthday cake, but he lost his insurance," said Dr. Britt Stroud, of Golisano Children's Hospital.

Until last year, Medicaid paid for Robles' treatment. Now, without health insurance, he can't afford to visit the doctor.

"You're feeling bad because you don't know what's going on," Robles said.

He said he lives with uncertainty every day, "but I'm not going to let it keep me down. I have goals."

Tuesday at the state Capitol, doctors told stories about young adults caught in the gap. They're covered by Medicaid until they're 18, then they're on their own.

"When we transition the children into adult services, we have a similar situation like Geosel has explained to you," said Dr. Daniel Plasencia.

Doctors and patients form the Florida Remedy Coalition. They're asking state lawmakers to expand Medicaid and close the coverage gap.

And with just a few weeks left in the Legislative session, the pressure's mounting on lawmakers to accept the cash. The Senate has devised a plan to take the money. Now all eyes are on the House.

Robles hopes the House comes through, but he's pushing forward regardless. While MD tears down his body, he's focused on sharpening his mind. He wants to be a lawyer.

The Senate plan would allow private insurers to take the Medicaid money to extent coverage. Florida's House speaker now says he's open to alternative plans but still worries about what will happen when the federal money runs dry.