Story Bank: Mainers Standing Together for Medicaid

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Lester & Penny     Ashley     Kelly     Jim     Cassie     Donna     Sandra     Dawna     Leisa     Lynnea     Rita     Chris     Moriah     Dr. Barbara Covey     Susan     Diane     Kathy     Sam     Cassandra     Pamela     F.M.H.     John & Suzanne     Max     Janice     Scott     Patty     Bradley     Erica

The Mainers Standing Together for Medicaid Story Bank is a collection of health care narratives from community members across Maine. Each story highlights the vital role of Medicaid, also known as MaineCare, and access to quality health coverage in keeping Mainers healthy. 

If you are interested in sharing your story, please contact Victoria at or submit your story here or below

Find a complete list of stories here, or click the links below to read each individual story.

Lester & Penny, Lincoln

Lester was laid off from Great Northern Paper in East Millinocket in February 2014. His spouse, Penny, required surgery and had to quit work to get the medical attention she needed. Not soon after, Lester became ill. They made too much to qualify for MaineCare, but not enough to afford Marketplace health insurance. Without insurance, he could not prevent his illness from advancing. Lester passed away in August 2017. 

Read Lester & Penny's story here.

Ashley, Augusta

Ashley and her husband are busy parents with hectic schedules. Ashley is enrolled in health insurance through her employer, but her husband is not. He makes too much to qualify for MaineCare, but not enough to afford Marketplace insurance. It is too costly for Ashley to add her husband to her insurance plan. Luckily, her husband has yet to face a detrimental medical challenge, but Ashley worries that if he does, they will not be able to afford the medical care he might require.

"It would be nice to not have people who are just making it have to struggle. You either have to choose to pay for your health insurance or all your other necessities of life." -Ashley 


Read Ashley's story here.

Kelly Martineau, Topsham


Jim, East Millinocket


Jim is a veteran and long-time mill worker. In 2014, when the Great Northern Paper Company closed, Jim was laid off and lost his employer-based health insurance. He has been living without health insurance for four years. Jim has a history of heart challenges and diabetes. Although there are community organizations that help him to obtain the medication he needs, Jim is still finding himself struggling to get the comprehensive health care he requires. When MaineCare expands in July 2018, he will have access to health care again.


Read Jim's story here.

Cassie, Raymond


Cassie is a full-time, unpaid caregiver to the youngest of her four children, Jaxen, who is living with an unknown, life-threatening medical condition. Cassie's husband is also facing medical challenges that require her to take on most household responsibilities. Without MaineCare, Jaxen's medical challenges would become far less manageable.


"I couldn't survive without MaineCare at this point." -Cassie


Read Cassie's story here.

Donna Wall, Lewiston


Donna Wall is a caregiver to her three adult children that are living with autism. When her two sons turned 18, Donna was classified as a "childless adult" and lost MaineCare eligibility, leaving her without health insurance. Even though Donna is still caring for her children, she cannot qualify for MaineCare. Overnight, when she is not tending to her family, she works as a newspaper carrier. With an annual income of $17,000, Donna cannot afford private health insurance. She is stuck in the coverage gap until she can qualify for MaineCare when it is expanded in July 2018. Health care coverage cannot come soon enough. Recently, Donna slipped on ice during her newspaper route and broke her ankle. 


Read Donna's story here.

Sandra, York County


Sandra was working as an in-home aide when she sustained a traumatic brain injury on the job. After that moment, her life was turned upside down. She was not receiving health isnurance from her employer, could not qualify for MaineCare, and after receiving workers' compensation for her injury, was ineligible for subsidies through the Marketplace. Although the accident happened over two years ago, Sandra is still struggling physically and financially.


Read Sandra's story here.

Dawna, Farmingdale


Dawna worked as a home-based child care provider for 32 years in addition to caring for her five sons. Dawna went without health care for 13 years, foregoing necessary cancer prevention care like mamograms and pap smears. When she started working as a Certified Residential Medication Aide at MaineGeneral, she finally had access to health care. When she went for her first wellness exam in years, her doctors discovered she had cancer, and it was spreading. 


Read Dawna's story here.

Leisa, Livermore Falls

Leisa lost her job and health insurance when Carleton Woolen Mills closed its doors. Her four children, one of whom is living with autism, lost their source of health insurance, too. Her family enrolled in MaineCare but when her children turned 18, she lost coverage again. Diabetes has caused her to lose vision in one eye. She is thousands of dollars in medical debt and awaiting Medicaid expansion to continue the necessary treatments she needs. 

Read Leisa's story here.

Lynnea, Lewiston

Lynnea is a mom and an active volunteer in the Lewiston community. For the past year, Lynnea has been stuck in the coverage gap, earning too little to afford private health insurance, but too much to qualify for MaineCare. Without health insurance, she has struggled to find the necessary medical treatment to care for her oral health.

"It should never be something you have to question. If you're sick, go to a doctor. If you're not feeling well or you hurt yourself, go to a doctor. It should never have to be, 'Do I go to a doctor, or do I eat?' That is wrong on so many levels." -Lynnea

Read Lynnea's story here.

Rita, Auburn

Rita is a part-time worker, full-time student, active volunteer, and a mother to twin boys. Both of Rita's sons have faced various medical challenges since they were diagnosed with lead poisoning. MaineCare has made it possible for Rita and her sons to get the health care they need. 

"I feel like we are super fortunate that we have access to MaineCare at this point in time in our lives, because I don't know what we would do."-Rita, 40

Read Rita's story here.

Chris, Winslow

 Six years ago, Chris noticed a mole on his chest and thought little of it until one day, he knew something was wrong. After visiting a walk-in clinic, Chris was diagnosed with cancer. He did not have health insurance and was worried about finding treatment and how much it would cost him out-of-pocket. 

"I am sure if I let the melanoma go longer, it would've spread through my body and my chance would've been very different." -Chris

Read Chris's story here.

Moriah, Old Town


Read Moriah's story here.

Dr. Barbara Covey, Oakland

Dr. Barbara Covey is an emergency physician from Oakland. She sees a wide range of patients from those with small injuries to major illnesses. She knows the devastation individuals and families face when they don't have health insurance and lack access to health care. 

“All people deserve access to health care. It’s not something that should belong only to those who can afford it.” -Dr. Barbara Covey

Read Dr. Barbara Covey's story here.

Susan Weir, Saco

Susan was diagnosed with HIV when she was 21, after undergoing a full hysterectomy. She lives in the coverage gap where she makes too much to enroll in MaineCare, but too little to afford health insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace Exchange. She had been living without health insurance for a full year until she began to receive medical services from Maine's waiver program for people living with HIV/AIDS and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program.

"Having HIV doesn't make you normal, but what is normal anyway?" -Susan, 54

Read Susan's story here.

Diane, Presque Isle

After completing her medical assistant program at a community college in Indiana, Diane moved to Presque Isle to be closer to her aging parents. Soon, Diane noticed a small sore on her foot that led to her having her leg amputated. MaineCare allowed her to access life-saving medical treatment.


“It should not be this hard when you can prove over and over again that you are sick and you need some help for a while. No one should have to fight as hard and as long as I did.” -Diane, 57

Read Diane's story here.

Kathy, Winslow

Kathy has been a hair dresser for 32 years. She was diagnosed with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), both of which make breathing difficult. After losing MaineCare, Kathy had her oxygen equipment taken away and is now facing difficulties managing her medical challenges. 

"To have everything taken away like it has, it's just unbelievable. It's not fair." -Kathy

Read Kathy's story here.

Sam, Augusta

It would cost nearly $800 each month for Sam and her family to be insured through her husband's employer, a cost that the family cannot endure. Luckily, Sam's family is eligible to enroll in MaineCare. Without MaineCare, Sam's children and her husband, who suffers pain from his herniated discs and has been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, would not be able to receive necessary medical treatment. 

"I wouldn't trade MaineCare for the world." -Sam, Augusta

Read Sam's story here.

Cassandra Provencher, Sanford

Cassandra and her family were enrolled in MaineCare, until state income eligibility requirements changed. Cassandra and her husband are now insured through the Marketplace Exchange, and although they are pleased with some of the services they have received, they had more of their needs met with MaineCare. Cassandra has recently discovered a mass in her leg and has not been able to obtain the proper testing she needs to rule out a cancer diagnosis. 

"When I had MaineCare, I felt protected, I felt loved, and I felt cared about." –Cassandra, 33

Read Cassandra's story here.

Pamela, Sabattus

Pamela lives in Sabattus and likes to stay busy working with local teens and volunteering with various organizations. Pamela has just recently obtained health insurance, but she remembers all too well what life without coverage was like.

Read Pamela's story here.

F.M.H., Oxford County

F.M.H. left home at 16 years old. While experiencing homelessness, she worked 12 to 18-hour days, completed her GED and some college, and eventually purchased a home. She was living without health insurance until January 2017, when she was enrolled in MaineCare. Since her enrollment, she has received treatment for many medical challeneges, but is struggling to access oral health services and find mental health providers that are knowledgable about Maine's transgender community. 

"We're basically throwaway people I think. That's how I feel at times." -F.M.H., 63

Read F.M.H.'s story here.

John Miller & Suzanne Belanger, Springfield

John receives some medical coverage, but Suzanne is in the coverage gap. She makes too little to afford health insurance through the Marketplace and does not qualify for MaineCare. Suzanne had a heart attack in 2010 and is still struggling to receive the medical care she needs. Her daily medications are too expensive, and without health insurance, she cannot manage to afford her treatement. They live in constant fear that another heart attack without insurance will lead them to further medical debt and the inability to access the help Suzanne needs to maintain her health. 

Read John & Suzanne's story here.

Max, Portland

Max lives in Portland and was a student at Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) until he was diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety. He soon dropped out of school. He lost MaineCare three years ago and is finding it difficult to obtain the medicine he needs.

"There's no reason that we can't get health care coverage for everybody. A rising tide raises all ships." -Max

Read Max's story here.

Janice, Swanville

Janice was injured while working at Little River Apparel, a company that makes U.S. military uniforms. Because of her injury, she is unable to work and relies on her Social Security benefits to survive. She is struggling to access the health care she needs as she does not qualify for MaineCare and cannot afford Marketplace insurance. 

"I'm here with a broken body and no health insurance." -Janice, 55

Read Janice's story here.

Scott, Leeds

Scott was having trouble walking, couldn't open his eyes, and his fingers were tingling. Scott was uninsured, and after visiting the emergency room, was sent home with aspirin. He was soon paralyzed and diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening autoimmune disorder. His family and providers worked quickly to figure out how Scott would obtain treatment without accruing substantial medical debt. Luckily, Scott was able to get health insurance--MaineCare--and it saved his life.

"I don't think he would have survived without it." -Scott's mom

Read Scott's story here.

Patty, Shapleigh

Patty and her husband live in Shapleigh and lost their health insurance after her husband was laid off. They were enrolled in MaineCare in 2009 and lost their coverage in 2012 after their youngest child turned 18 years old. Her husband is facing multiple medical challenges that have led to permanent disabilities. 

"Health care is a human right and we really and truly, in this country, cannot afford not to have health coverage for everybody." -Patty

Read Patty's story here.

Bradley, Lewiston

Bradley has experienced living without health care insurance throughout many periods of his life. His employer's health insurance programs were always too expensive to cover him and his three children. When Bradley's children received health care coverage through MaineCare, his fears and anxieties left him.

"There were a couple of times I didn't have it [health insurance]. You kind of hold off on going to the doctor's and go to the emergency room when it gets that bad." -Bradley

Read Bradley's story here.

Erica, Waterville

Erica worked as a hairdresser until the nerve pain in her hands forced her to stop doing the work that she loves. Erica did not have health insurance, and when she had to close her business and gained part-time employment, she grew more fearful of her health care situation. 

“It’s a basic right of everyone to have access to being healthy. It shouldn’t be a privilege for only those born into it or in the right place at the right time. Sickness happens to us all, rich or poor.” -Erica LeStrange

Read Erica's story here.