“This worked out perfectly,” she says. “We wouldn’t have been able to continue to see and care for Dr. Ward if we hadn’t had a Medicaid extension.”
For Jonathan Martin, 37, his family of five in Park Hill, Okla., lost their health insurance after he quit his job in March due to the pandemic. Shortly afterwards, Mr Martin, a diabetic, contracted Covid-19 and nearly died after spending a week in hospital with pneumonia and weakening kidneys.
His wife, Adrian Martin, 30, said her husband was recovering, but the mental strain caused by the virus left him in need of behavioral therapy. He was afraid to leave his home for fear of contracting the virus again and dying, she said. Without insurance, Ms Martin said, they couldn’t find him the help he needed in the tribal health care system, which she said had a long waiting list for such care.
After qualifying for Medicaid extension, Ms. Martin was able to get the free coverage for her family and get her husband into therapy.
“It’s a relief to know that if something happens again,” she said, “I don’t have to worry about a way to get my husband treated.”
Dana Miller, the director of tribal government relations at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, said the state had worked with its tribal partners to include as many people as possible in the program, especially in the most rural and remote communities. Those earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level — currently about $18,000 a year for one person or $36,000 for a family of four — qualify.
“Some people in rural areas don’t have access to the Internet or a computer and need help filling out documentation,” Ms Miller said.