The personal side to Medicaid expansion – what it would mean for a Southern Arizona man

At 36 years old, Jesus Cruz has the body of a 60 year old.  That’s what his doctors tell him. 

Jesus Cruz

Jesus Cruz

Cruz began dealing with debilitating health issues in his mid-20s. He was diagnosed with gout, a kind of arthritis that is caused by too much uric acid in the blood.  It causes an attack of sudden burning pain, stiffness and swelling in a joint.  Without treatment, the painful attacks become more frequent and over time, they can cause serious, permanent harm to joints, tendons and other tissues. 

About a year and a half ago, Cruz was working as a security officer when the security company went out of business.  The timing couldn’t have been worse.  Suddenly he found himself unemployed and uninsured – when his health problems went from bad to worse.  The gout was so severe that he had to undergo surgery on both of his feet.

The operations left him crippled. 

Shortly after, he had to undergo two more surgeries – this time on each hand—and doctors had to amputate one of his fingers.  The therapy he’s currently receiving is helpful, but it’s the medication, the newest treatment on the market, that has been the most effective.  Luckily, it was provided to him for free for the first month as part of a program that helps provide care for those who are unemployed and uninsured.  But however helpful the medicine is, it is simply not something he can afford on his own.

“I need this medication to make me better, but since I am unable to work, I can’t afford it,” he said.  “It helps reduce the amount of uric acid in my blood.  My doctor says it will make me significantly better.  He anticipates that with this treatment, I will be able to work again in about a year.”

Cruz is one of thousands of Arizonans who would be covered if Arizona’s Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), is expanded under Governor Jan Brewer’s budget proposal.  The move would restore AHCCCS eligibility for approximately 240,000 adults, and expand AHCCCS to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.  Combined, the steps give an additional 300,000 low-income Arizonans AHCCCS coverage over the next four years.

Cruz is watching and waiting to see how the decision plays out in the State Legislature, knowing that what happens will make all the difference in whether he can continue to get the medicine he so desperately needs.  “I want to get healthy, get out of the hospital, and put my history of poor health behind me.  I want to get back to work,” he says.  “While I may not physically be able to be a security officer again, I will do whatever job I am able to do in order to support myself.”

If the Arizona Legislature passes the expansion plan, it would take effect in January 2014.

Please click here to learn how we got to the new plan for restoring and expanding AHCCCS.

Please click here to contact your legislators and tell them that you support the AHCCCS expansion.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Rd. | Tucson, AZ 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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