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Letter: Bill to expand Medicaid access for Georgians could save lives
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When I woke up that morning in December and felt the dull ache of depression thudding through my body I was a little bit surprised. Except for a few minor stresses life was pretty good, but sure enough, there was that dark expanse of loneliness, sadness and along with it all the physical symptoms of depression. Physical symptoms that include lethargy, inability to concentrate, slowed motor skills and an inability to express myself through speech and writing with clarity.

I’ve suffered from depression since puberty and from PTSD stemming from sexual assault since high school. Ill always battle it and Ill always be afraid that maybe one day I wont be able to win the battle and Ill die. Depression is a serious illness with serious repercussions. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 38,000 Americans commit suicide every year.

However, I am very lucky. I have a job that provides affordable insurance with reasonable copays. I have an amazing therapist and psychiatrist, I was able to quickly get into the wonderful out-patient program at Laurelwood Psychiatric hospital, and I have the ability to pay for my medication.

Without insurance my medication would be well over $400 a month, but luckily with my copay, it is only $50 a month. My support team and my medication helps me tackle my depression and has saved my marriage, helped me retain my employment, allows me to parent my three children and affords me the security of knowing I’m not alone in my disease.

How different would this past Christmas have been if I didn’t have insurance? The day-to-day endless despair would impact the security of my children. I’d probably lose my job, the bills would go unpaid, and that feeling of being a terrible burden to everyone I love would steadily increase. In the best of situations, I would get so low financially to qualify for assistance and hope my children would not be taken away. Although the unending forms and financial proofs I would have to provide would be daunting, and without my children I would most likely lose the little bit of will I did have to live. In the worst of situations, I would die by my own hand.

I’m phrasing this as bluntly as I can. Depression kills, but a lack of access to health care is certainly an accessory to the crime. More than 500,000 Georgians lack access to health care because Gov. Nathan Deal refused the federal Medicaid expansion. State Rep. Stacey Abrams has renewed the fight to expand Medicaid with House Bill 823.

I continually hear from Republicans that we have a mental health crisis and not a gun crisis (I happen to think we have both) and I’ve heard numerous Republicans espouse they are pro-life. If you think we have a mental health crisis or you want to truly want to embrace being pro-life, then you must support House Bill 823 and expand health care access through Medicaid expansion. If not, then your arguments ring hollow and cruel because people are suffering and dying as a result.

Amanda Roper