A Tennessee couple, married for 33-years, was forced to separate so they could afford the medications that she so desperately needs to control her epilepsy.
The heartbreaking story of Larry and Linda Drain is an extreme case, but one that has happened because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which celebrated five-years of existence Friday. Like it or not, it seems Obamacare is here to stay and for the Drains that is not a good solution.
In a report from last year, published by the Huffington Post and The Tennessean, Larry and Linda shared their story, explaining how they were forced to separate so they could keep their medical insurance. The couple fell in the so-called “coverage gap,” their income is too high for the state-sponsored healthcare coverage — TennCare — and too low to qualify for the ACA’s subsidies.
When Larry opted to retire early last year, he couldn’t have predicted the disastrous consequences on their health insurance coverage under Obamacare. His retirement benefits exceed the limit on unearned income, which meant his retirement payments discontinued Linda’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, which she needed to be able to have access to TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program.
They had some hope when Tennessee’s legislature was considering expanding its Medicaid program under Obamacare, however, they voted the bill down. This left the Drains with no other option but to separate, because she suffers from epilepsy and “can’t lose her insurance or she will die,” Larry told HuffPost Live’s Alyona Minkkovsky.
“We cussed and discussed and prayed and screamed and hollered and looked at all the options, and we figured out for the month of January, we would have $30 to live on for the entire month. In February it would get worse, and in March it would get worse than that. So on Dec. 26, after 33 years of marriage, we decided to separate.”
Linda moved 25-miles away from Larry to find subsidized housing and, not surprisingly, their separation has been extremely difficult, with visits that are few and far between.
“It’s really been a change that neither one of us expected…It’s been costly because the gas expense is enormous for his income and mine…It’s not something that’s within our budget to see each other whenever we would like, and the maintenance on the car is another consideration.
Larry was writing daily letters to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, pleading with him to expand Medicaid. So far there has been no answer. At one point, Larry thought he may become homeless and the idea terrified Linda.
“I would hate to see my husband out there away from home, knowing he’s at this exhaustion point, and I could do nothing, and I would want to hold him and have him with me.”
To top it all, TennCare had threatened to stop covering Linda’s epilepsy drug, however, with only a couple of days worth of supply, the state reversed their decision and she is still able to receive the life-saving prescription. A small victory for this couple who now lives in separate homes because of Obamacare.
[Image via The Tennessean]