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.