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 I’m Sam, and I am a Critical Care nurse. I am lucky enough to have never needed Medicaid myself. Like so much in my life, my Medicaid story isn’t about me– it’s about my patients.

As a nurse, I don’t look to see how my patients are paying for their care before treating them. It doesn’t affect the care I provide. However, I can tell when they don’t have quality insurance like Medicaid. I know because my patients are often worried about how they will pay. When they should be worried about their health and getting back on their feet, they are often worried about the bills they know are coming. I’ve had patients refuse physical therapy for fear of the cost. I’ve had elderly ladies try to hand me dollar bills for their prescriptions and apologize if it isn’t enough. I’ve had patients tell me that no matter what the consequences are, they cannot take their new medications because they cannot afford them. I feel each of these situations like a punch in the gut. I got into medicine to make people feel better, not make them worry about how they’ll pay their bills.

In rural counties, there is a lack of adequate health care resources. Many rural areas rely on just one rural health center or hospital for the entire county for all health care needs. Medicaid payments keep these few remaining rural hospitals and health care centers open and able to see patients who have no other options for their health care needs. Without Medicaid, these health care centers and rural hospitals would almost certainly close, costing small communities jobs they can scarcely afford to do without and leaving rural folks and impoverished communities without access to health care. When these hospitals close, those patients end up in our ER and my ICU.

Medicaid gives my patients living in poverty access to primary care and maternal care. It allows poorer children to see a doctor and be immunized to go to school, which keeps my child safe. It helps my patients with disabilities live more fulfilling lives and access care in their homes. It helps keep rural hospitals and care centers open and protects those jobs. Medicaid keeps my patients healthy and leads to better outcomes. Medicaid is vital to my patients and our state.

Sam McAninch RN, BSN, CCRN, critical care nurse, Ozark