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Fighting Bureaucracy for Health Care

By: Melissa S., Miami-Dade County

I have been an advocate and an activist since high school. People in my community know that they can come to me for help when they are having trouble getting the services they need. Right now, I’m fighting to get my Medicaid back through DCF, the Department of Children and Families.

I had to fax them my medical history so that I can get a hearing. It’s crazy. I had been applying for Medicaid all last year (2018). In January of 2019, I was approved. I was able to go the doctor and get all of my medications. Then in March, it all just stopped. I couldn’t get in to see my doctor. When I looked inside of my DCF portal there was a note saying that my Medicaid had been canceled. It said that I had taken too long to reapply for my Medicaid.

I was shocked. I never received a notice in the mail or a notification on my phone. No one told me that I needed to reapply. So, I asked for a hearing, and its scheduled for a few months from now.

I have had health problems for as long as I can remember. I had asthma as a child and remember my mother taking me to the doctor. Once I turned 18, I lost my insurance and went to the Emergency Room when I had problems with my asthma. When I had my two children I was covered by Medicaid until my youngest son turned 18. We all had regular doctors and got care. My asthma is tricky because it takes a combination of three different types of pumps and inhalers to keep it under control. I have to also stay inside where there is cool air. When I have to run errands, I leave the houses around 5 am in the morning so that I’m back home before it gets too hot. Being out in the sun is bad for my asthma. Another trigger is stressful situations and people. I also pray a lot. Prayer helps.

I live in Liberty City, a city in Miami-Dade County. I raised both of my children here. When they were little they were sick a lot. They both suffer from asthma like me. When they were growing up, we had health clinics and other services in Liberty City. I was able to take them everywhere they needed because it was right here. Today, there are no clinics in Liberty City. Everything is gone. I’ve written to the Commissioners, Senator Marco Rubio, Fredricka Wilson, all of the people I thought would be able to help me. They have not helped. But I keep fighting.

For the last four years I’ve gone to the Camillus Health Center in Miami for care. They run a free clinic and give you the medication you need. They take really good care of you. Jackson Memorial used to see people without insurance, but now they want you to give them $100 up front before they will see you. A lot of times they don’t fix the problem, but they will send you a bill. They charge $100 just to see their dentist and $150 to pull a tooth. Last time I saw a dentist was at a Health Fair at Miami Dade College. They checked and cleaned my teeth for free. Now they are charging $20 to see a dentist. I have three teeth that need to be pulled out, but I can’t afford to have them pulled. I would have to pay $450 at Jackson Memorial. Can you believe that? Sometimes I go to Publix or the Miami Dade Fire Department to check my blood pressure using their free machine.

Since I moved back to Liberty City, Camillus Health Center is too far away from where I live. I would have to take two buses to get there, and I don’t have bus money. With Medicaid I was able to get transportation to my appointments. Right now I can’t even afford to take a bus to the Emergency Room. If I had to call an ambulance it will cost me $800. Right now I’m looking searching for other programs in my area that might be able to help me see a doctor.


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