Major patient groups join AMA to voice concerns on House bill

When Laurie Merges lost her corporate job in Cleveland two years ago, she enrolled her children—including one on the autism spectrum who needs treatment—in Ohio’s Medicaid plan. Told of her eligibility for Medicaid under the expanded version of the program that Ohio implemented, at first Merges thought the coverage might be superfluous, as she expected to soon regain employer-sponsored insurance when she found a new job.

“But then I thought, ‘It’s a good safety net,’” Merges said today at a news conference held by the AMA and three major organizations representing patients, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association. The availability of that expanded Medicaid safety net, under which nearly 700,000 Ohioans were enrolled as of 2015, may have saved Merges’ life. She was soon diagnosed with stage 3b breast cancer, underwent bilateral mastectomy, 33 rounds of radiation and, 15 months later, is still taking oral chemotherapy.

“Without that coverage, I never would have been able to do it,” Merges said. “Thanks to my treatment, I’m hopeful I’ll be around to watch my children grow.”

The lede. The whole shebang.