Voices from the Health Care Gap – Lynne’s Story

Lynne Pierce – Saxapahaw, NC

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When I think of a time in my life where I was the most proud, I would have to say it was when my daughter, Addie Kate, was born. I’m very proud to say that I grew up right here in rural Alamance County and she was born here too. She’s turning 12 this year, loves school, softball, and especially dance. Most of my family still reside here, my elderly parents, an older sister, nieces, nephew, and two wonderful great-nephews. We are a very close-knit family and believe in spending time together as a family.

I run the Southern Alamance Family Empowerment food pantry (SAFE) in the Village of Saxapahaw, which is a former mill town. It’s an amazing place to be a part of and as a single parent, brings much comfort having so much support from a truly caring atmosphere. People are concerned about local businesses, local grown foods, and is everything that you would think a village represents.

I’ve been at Southern Alamance Family Empowerment since 2016. Before that, I managed a Detox/Mental Health Crisis Facility. I’ve been in non-profit work for about 20 years. At SAFE, we distribute food and try to be an informal community resource center. Right now, we’re working on a summer program where we will provide kids in the rural part of the county with a full breakfast, lunch and a snack daily for the whole summer. A lot of these families can’t afford to feed their children when school is out for the summer.

One of the challenges I face is that there is no way the food pantry can afford to offer me health insurance. I couldn’t afford the deductible even if they could offer it, to be honest. So, I’m in the so-called “Medicaid Gap.” I make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to be covered under the Affordable Care Act.

I have high blood pressure and a diabetic that needs insulin. I go to the local Sylvan Community Health Center, which is income-based, however, I don’t go to the doctor unless I absolutely must.  If I didn’t have to worry about health coverage, my life would be a lot less stressful. I’m already 50 and having a pre-teen, I want to be able to make sure I’m around to watch her grow up as much as possible. I try not to let it beat me down because I’m grateful for what I do have and see people daily who have issues much more dire. However, I do worry about my diabetes or what I’d do if something major happened. Lack of healthcare not only affects me it  affects my parents as they worry about me as well.

I don’t like putting my personal stuff out there, but I think it’s so important to talk about expanding Medicaid because of the stigma around people who don’t have insurance. I am a college graduate with a master’s in Teaching History and I have held a NC Teaching License. I am the director of this food bank. And I am in the Medicaid gap. But truthfully, this is not just about me. I think it’s just important for people to understand what the Medicaid gap really is and that it can affect anybody at any time.

I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say, “I never would have thought that you would have been in this situation.” Really, my goal is to help people not feel embarrassed and realize we can come together and do something to expand Medicaid in our state. A lot of other people living in rural parts of the state are experiencing this as well.

If health coverage were for everyone, it would mean healthier people, healthier lifestyles, better education, and better employees. It would bring jobs to the community. And if we can get adults into better healthcare, it sets a pattern for healthier generations coming up.

Sometimes people try to give me credit for working in community services so long and honestly, it’s just what we do for each other. I believe strongly that healthcare is a human right. It’s a civil right. And for people to not have access and have worry about an overburden of the financial cost of it is just wrong.

My worldview comes down to the fact we just need to do what’s right. And in this case, that is to expand Medicaid in our state. I really think if our elected leaders came to the pantry and heard how their lack of coverage impacted their lives every day, they’d expand Medicaid in a second.

Help us expand Medicaid in North Carolina. Keep up to date on the campaign and demand Medicaid expansion by signing this petition.