Posted: Feb 2, 2022 / 11:24 AM EST

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Our Future West Virginia held a call for West Virginians to discuss their stories about Medicaid.

Kathy Ferguson, Interim Executive Director of Our Future WV, held the conference.

West Virginia, along with Alaska, Arkansas, D.C., Delaware, New Hampshire, and Texas, was selected by the Center for Popular Democracy to “capture” Medicaid stories and listen to people about their experiences.

She says that West Virginia has a “disproportionate” amount of people living below the poverty line and that West Virginia relies on Medicaid.

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Mary Ann Claytor, a board member for Our Future West Virginia, was the first to speak where she talked about what she went through when her youngest son was diagnosed with a rare disease that caused a massive blood clot that led to him to need a liver transplant.

Claytor says that even though their family had health insurance through her husband’s job, they had a $1 million lifetime payout. Before he had received the transplant, she says the insurance company was telling him that he was getting close to the limit.

She says that Medicaid helped them because it let someone stay home and care for him before his death.

Rusty Williams talked about his experience as a cancer survivor and how the Catastrophic Illness Commission (CIC) helped him get his Medicaid coverage to get emergency surgery.

Williams says he went through Medicaid three times and was denied. He needed emergency surgery so his mother helped him find coverage and then, she found the CIC.

He says to keep Medicaid, the amount of paperwork becomes a “full-time job.”

Williams also talked about House Bill 4277, which is a bill going through the House of Delegates that is trying to dissolve the CIC. He says the CIC’s budget was cut from $1 million annually to $100,000 annually through the 2020 legislative session.

The next person speaking is Tammy, who asked to not have her last name posted, who is a “friend” and “neighbor” of people who receive Medicaid. Ferguson says that Tammy is a “quasi-advocate” for Medicaid because she is a retired veteran who did not have to worry about health coverage while in the Air Force.

She says that she is still adjusting to being concerned about paying for “basic needs.”

Tammy says her daughter is being asked to pay $300-$800 a month for health insurance, but she says that she barely makes that every month.

Dr. Jessie Ice, Executive Director for WV for Affordable Health Care, was the next person to speak.

She says that Medicaid is important to her organization and for the people of West Virginia, with a third of West Virginians asking for Medicaid help.

She says that she believes that West Virginia needs to fund the DHHR to the level so they can make enrollment into Medicaid easier.

The organization she is a part of is looking to raise the salary limit for Medicaid so that more people past the top limit can still access it.

Ice also talks about how West Virginia was one of the first states to pass Medicaid expansion that increases the eligibility level.