Under the Affordable Care Act all 50 states were supposed to expand the program to include anyone up to 138% of the federal poverty level, but the Supreme Court ruled that part of the law was unconstitutional and left it to the individual states.
So far Utah has taken no action.
That’s why Charlotte Lawrence is taking her story to Utah’s Capitol Hill.
In June, 2012 she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
At the time the single mother of five was also a full time student with no insurance, so she turned to Medicaid, but was denied.
“I actually only made $400 too much to qualify,” said Lawrence.
She put school on hold and now works two jobs, but still she is left with a major dilemma.
“It becomes do I pay those payments or pay bills to keep my kids fed, lights on, utilities and things like that,” said Lawrence.
The answer to that question is she pays the bills and neglects radiation treatment.
“I don’t have the money for co-pays and deductibles,” said Lawrence.
She says hope and treatment would come with Medicaid expansion in Utah.
She teamed up with the largest cancer advocacy group in the country to put the pressure on Utah lawmakers.
“Health insurance is the main indicator of a person being diagnosed with stage one cancer versus stage four cancer,” said Brook Carlisle with the American Cancer Society.
Carlisle says that’s because people who don’t have insurance can’t afford early screenings.
The American Caner Society is pushing for full Medicaid expansion, up to 138% of the poverty level.
They realize that isn’t likely to happen in Utah, but they are hoping for a compromise to get more people covered.
“An expansion up to 100% of poverty might be where we meet in the middle,” said Carlisle.
A compromise that could help Lawrence and others bridge the gap.
“I pay my taxes, I work two jobs, I just want to be able to live, not have to worry about where the money will come from. It wouldn’t be something where I would be on Medicaid forever, it would be so I could go back to school and I could go on living,” said Lawrence.