She didn’t make it to the Emergency Room and there was no care for her through Waiver 1115
The testimony below was submitted by Dorothy Gibbons, CEO and Co-Founder of The Rose, on June 15, 2021, during a virtual and in-person hearing in Austin, Texas. The room was packed with people who had driven to Austin to provide eloquent and compelling testimony with the hope of ensuring Medicaid expansion in Texas.
Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to provide testimony regarding Texas Medicaid’s 1115 Waiver. I am Dorothy Gibbons, CEO and Co-Founder of The Rose, a Houston-based breast cancer nonprofit, annually serving 40,000 people from 41 counties throughout Southeast Texas. While I am aware of the benefits of the 1115 Waiver and totally support the efforts to have it reinstated, it is not enough. At The Rose, we know. We serve 10,000 uninsured women and men each year.
Our patient was one of the millions of uninsured Texans who would not benefit from the Waiver. She was a US citizen, Hispanic, a high school graduate, attended church regularly and she and her husband worked two jobs to make ends meet. At age 29, she primarily cared for other people’s children to help feed the two of her own. Despite all this family’s hard work, they could not afford health insurance.
When she found the lump in her breast, she didn’t know where to turn. She had no way of knowing how quickly breast cancer metastasizes in young women. She didn’t have money to cover a doctor’s visit. 53% of all Texans and 2/3 of uninsured Texans skipped or postponed medical care because of cost. She was one of them. By the time she made it to The Rose, it was too late. She died like many other women who seek help far too late.
The sad truth is that Waiver 1115 wouldn’t have helped her. She needed diagnostic intervention long before the cancer had erupted through her skin. Early diagnosis was never an option for her because like so many Texans, she didn’t have insurance or access to care. The uninsured try to cope with chronic conditions without medical care. Cancer is tough enough to face, but treatment is guaranteed only for those lucky enough to have insurance. The prognosis is grim for the uninsured. In fact, the uninsured are 60% more likely to die from cancer than the insured.
The majority of Texans want the Legislature to draw down Medicaid expansion funding to provide a health insurance option to cashiers, cooks, home health aides, and other low-wage workers who don’t receive insurance from their employers. We ask the Legislature to expand health coverage; the avenues already exist. You can make it happen. Please don’t delay until it is too late for millions more.
Texas must do better.