For this community-focused family, Medicaid coverage is essential

Registered nurse Ginger Glory and her family are dedicated to serving their community in any way they can. However, they also rely on Medicaid to help provide necessary specialty care to their family that is unavailable within the tribal health system. Do you or someone you know have a health care story you would like to share? Visit OKPolicy.org/MyStory and tell us about it.

Ginger Glory’s family has dedicated their lives to serving their community. Ginger and her daughter are both registered nurses, her husband is a paramedic, and her two sons are in law enforcement. They are all staunch supporters of Medicaid expansion.

“I’ve been in health care for 37 years, but the most important role I have is being a wife, a mother, and a grandmother,” said Ginger, whose family lives in Briggs in Cherokee County.  “The most important people in my life are my precious family.”

“If I were to buy insurance for all of my children, that would take my entire paycheck. So then I would be thinking, ‘Do we buy groceries, pay the electric bill, or do we have health care?’ That’s not something anyone should have to choose.” –Heather Bridges

Ginger’s daughter, Heather Bridges, is a single mother who graduated from nursing school in December and has four children ranging from 14 to 18 years. 

“They all are on Medicaid,” Heather said. “One of them is 18 and the others are not far from it, so I feel like it was super important for State Question 802 to have passed in order for them to have preventative care and continued care.”

The family has access to Indian Health Services, which they use for checkups and routine visits. 

“Because Heather was a single mom of four and going to college, it was absolutely essential that she have Medicaid, or she couldn’t have attended,” Ginger said. “It would’ve created a tremendous burden.”

Heather’s oldest children, Madison and Isaac, both have heart conditions, and her youngest children have other chronic illnesses. Because all of Heather’s children need specialty care, they heavily rely on Medicaid to be able to receive it outside the tribal health system. 

“Medicaid has definitely provided them with options and the resources to get quality health care,” Heather said. “Without it, they wouldn’t have been able to receive specialty care they need. They’ve been given awesome opportunities because of Medicaid, and we’ve been able to maintain a healthy lifestyle for my kids because of that.”

Medicaid expansion is particularly urgent for Heather’s oldest daughter Madison, who is 18 years old and under a cardiologist’s care in Oklahoma City. Young adults who turn 19 are no longer automatically eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through Medicaid. Having just graduated from high school, Madison worried she would lose Medicaid.

“As well as my brother, I also have a heart condition, which doesn’t go away when I turn 18,” Madison said.

Heather said the promise of Medicaid expansion provided by SQ 802 gives her some peace of mind that Madison will be able to continue with her specialty care when she’s in college.

“Just because they turn 18 doesn’t mean they have private health care insurance,” Heather said. “That’s a huge misconception. People think when they’re 18, ‘Well now, they’re on their own.’ As a mom, I can’t do that to my kids. They will still have serious medical conditions that need to be followed up on. Even if they didn’t, checkups and vaccinations and screenings – those things are very important and prevent these major illnesses that would cost the state of Oklahoma much more.”

“As a nurse, I have held the hand of someone who went without health care, and it resulted in death. … To know it was preventable is devastating. No one should ever, ever, ever have to go through that.” –Ginger Glory

Heather feels fortunate that she has never had to choose between her children seeing a doctor or not. However, she knows others in the state have not been so lucky.

“The sad thing is that private insurance is so expensive,” Heather said. “If I were to buy insurance for all of my children, that would take my entire paycheck. So then I would be thinking, ‘Do we buy groceries, pay the electric bill, or do we have health care?’ That’s not something anyone should have to choose.”

Ginger said it’s heart-wrenching to think of people who have to make decisions like that, something she’s witnessed firsthand.

“As a nurse, I have held the hand of someone who went without health care, and it resulted in death. Those decisions of putting their health care and their own wellbeing in the background for the sake of their family cost them,” Ginger said. “To know it was preventable is devastating. No one should ever, ever, ever have to go through that. None of us should have to make that decision.”

Because of her personal and professional experiences, Ginger said Medicaid is a win-win for everyone.

“We need to get rid of that gap between those who have insurance and those who don’t. Medicaid is a win-win,” she said. “I don’t think a lot of people get this because maybe they’ve never been sick, or they’ve never heard the ‘cancer’ word. I’ve heard the cancer word. I’m a cancer survivor, but I had insurance. I didn’t have to worry about anything but getting better, but what about the people who have cancer and they also have to worry about how they’re going to pay for it. They can’t even concentrate on getting better.

“People should be able to get the care that they need.”

 

Help us tell you Medicaid story!

Do you or someone you know have a health care story you would like to share?

Visit OKPolicy.org/MyStory and tell us about it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Miguel Rios joined OK Policy as its Storybanker in May 2020. His career in communications began at Oklahoma City University where he graduated as a Clara Luper Scholar with a B.A. in Mass Communications. Before joining OK Policy, Miguel worked for Oklahoma Gazette, Oklahoma Living magazine and the State Fair of Texas public relations team. Through his diverse work experiences in various areas of communication, Miguel has become dedicated to providing a voice and platform to those who are often overlooked. A proud Mexican immigrant, Miguel carries his passion for empowering marginalized communities in every arena.

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