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    North Miami, FL


    After relocating to Miami with the hopes of providing a better life for his family, Hipolito's dream soon turned into a nightmare when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the economy. He is now struggling to make ends meet and worries about not having healthcare for his family.

  • In March of this year Hipolito brought his family of four from Washington, D.C. to Miami for a new life, just as he had done 18 years before when he fled his native Venezuela and sought asylum in the U.S.
    But his dream of new opportunities crashed head-on to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout this spring. The high-end restaurants he hoped to advise as a culinary consultant closed. To make ends meet, he is working as a cook, commuting two hours a day, and earning a fraction of his former salary. He is months behind on his rent.
    But what worries him most is his family’s health. He has no health insurance and no way to pay out-of-pocket for health care.
    “My wife has been in pain for weeks now but we can’t afford to find out why,” Hipolito says. “I swear, I’m very afraid. She is pale and suffering every day.” His wife recently had emergency gallbladder surgery but hasn’t had a follow-up visit because they can’t afford the out-of-pocket costs to see a doctor.

    My wife has been in pain for weeks now but we can’t afford to find out why. I swear, I’m very afraid. She is pale and suffering every day.

  • If Florida expanded Medicaid, Hipolito and his family would get the lifeline they need now to have access to affordable healthcare. Florida is one of 12 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, leaving more than 1.5 million residents without coverage in a health pandemic. Hipolito was referred to federally qualified health clinics that offer free or low-cost primary care to the uninsured. If his wife needs surgery or specialized care, her only recourse is to seek care at designated charity hospitals, such as the Jackson Health System, which is already overwhelmed by uninsured COVID-19 patient care.
    When Hipolito lived in Washington, D.C., his family had Medicaid, which saved his life. His morbid obesity put him at high risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
    “I was headed to an early death,” he says. With gastric bypass surgery covered by Medicaid, he was able to lose the excess weight and regain his health to continue working and supporting his family.
    Hipolito hopes there will be better days ahead if a COVID-19 vaccine is developed and that his wife’s health improves if she gets the care she needs. For now, he carries on, grateful for what he has, struggling to make things better.


    *Stock Photo