Meet the Faces of Medicaid from Across the Nation

Logan and Tracy Elfand
Longwood, FL

Logan is four years old and has been diagnosed with various speech and fine motor delays, as well as ADHD and ODD. For the past two years, Logan has been attending UCP of Central Florida. Through a multitude of therapies and treatments, Logan has been able to communicate with his mother, and even tell her how much he loves her. None of this would have possible without the assistance of Medicaid.

My name is Tracy Elfand and my son is a student at UCP of Central FL since 2009. He also is a recipient of Medicaid…Thank the good Lord above for Medicaid…Logan was misdiagnosed with autism and then it came to be that he had a speech delay and some fine motor delays. The good thing about the misdiagnosis is that the agency we went through sent him to UCP which has been a perfect fit for him. Medicaid has paid for all his therapies these past two years. His speech in the last two years has come so far. I can understand him and actually have conversations with him. He’s now four and it warms my heart to the moon and back that I can understand when he says he loves me or that I’m the best mommy in the whole wide world… It has been such an uphill battle to get what he needs and deserves in this world so he can mainstream and have a successful life. It’s all because of Medicaid, without it he wouldn’t be where he is today and wouldn’t get the chance to continue improving every day.

— Tracy Elfand


Tracy & Susan Swanner
Covington, LA

Tracy is three years old and has cerebral palsy. She has three older sisters and they all love to do everything together. She is active and energetic yet without Medicaid it would be difficult for her family to ensure she receives needed therapy treatments.

If the other children are playing with dolls, Tracy wants to play with the dolls, if the other girls are riding bikes, Tracy wants to be in the mix riding bikes with them, Tracy even loves to sit at the table, draw on paper, and “do her school work” when the other kids are doing school work. Recently, Tracy was able to start feeding herself a little and be included in family meals, none of these things would have been able to be accomplished without a lot of therapy for Tracy.

Medicaid provides not only essential health sustaining services from doctors, but they provide services like therapy that give my daughter a quality of life that, if she had to do without, she would not even be able to participate in simple activities that we take for granted, like eating with the family. Tracy not only means the world to us, but she is a smart and happy person and I know that she will be an amazing part of her community one day. Medicaid is an investment in our future community; it ensures that all of our children get the best start in life possible. These children will one day be our doctors, our teachers, and our government leaders, lets give them the best chance we can to secure a great future for them and a great future for our communities.

Please don’t cut back on Medicaid; please do not cut back on our future!

— Susan Swanner


Karlie & Kathy Hempel
Owensboro, KY

Karlie is fourteen years old and has cerebral palsy. She is non-verbal and non-ambulatory and Medicaid is a needed lifeline for her continued growth.

Without Medicaid, Karlie would not have received much needed therapy each week of  her life. She would not be able to receive a new wheelchair each time she has outgrown one. She would have received much needed equipment at home such as, gait trainer, stander, bath chair, potty chair, lift, etc. She would not have the pull-ups she needs. She would not be able to “talk” without her augmentative communication devise. She would not be able to stay in her loving home with her parents as her caregivers.

Karlie would not be the wonderful happy person she is today! She has blossomed; she attends activities in the community and has made many friends.  She is strong due to therapy and being able to grow in a wheelchair that fits. She is clean, healthy and loves life.

Without Medicaid, we would not have been able to provide any of the above mentioned services or equipment. Where would she be then?  It breaks my heart to think of additional struggles in life she would endure.

We have had private insurance but private insurance will not cover most, if any, of the needs of a child with disabilities. My current insurer, i.e., would not contribute to the cost of a Hoyer lift, (my child is 90lbs) because they consider is a “temporary item”!  The insurer “ok’d” the lift for one month! My child is 90lbs and is wheelchair bound but the lift is considered a temporary medical device?… Our children want to be productive members of society and as caregivers we are trying our best to see that it happens. We could not do it without Medicaid! Please consider the person and put yourself in our/their shoes first.

— Kathy O’Bryan Hempel


Emma, Casey & Larry Wink
Baldwinsville, NY

Emma is eight years old and unable to sit, stand, walk or talk. Her parents, Casey and Larry, keep working with her in hopes of advancement, and she is making progress. However, without Medicaid to help pay for her equipment, doctors and hospital stays, they would be lost.

With the cost of everything going crazy, we struggle to make it from pay check to pay check. We are fortunate to have a primary insurance so Medicaid is only covering our co-pays at this time but it is a godsend.

A few days ago we took Emma to a local beach. Fortunately, my husband can still carry her as she LOVES the beach, but there will be a day when that won’t be possible. An all terrain type stroller that we could wheel her along the beach in would be wonderful, but they are not within our financial reach. That, of course, is considered a luxury type of equipment. During our long, snowy winters, we are unable to take her wheelchair out for a walk in the snow. So when there is talk of CUT-BACKS instead of talk of improving the systems so that children and adults with such challenges could enjoy what others take for granted – well, like I said, it makes me sad.

I realize our country is in dire straits financially. Cutting back on Medicaid is NOT the answer. The government needs to look more into the abuse of the system as opposed to cutting back the system.

— Casey Wink


Arsalan, Sareen & Salman Shamsi
Columbia, MD

Arsalan 13 and Sareen 11, at the ages of three and two, respectively, were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Since their diagnoses both have received intensive intervention services.

Since receiving their formal diagnosis, both were enrolled in Maryland’s Medicaid Autism Waiver. Since then, in addition to the wonderful home-based, school-funded services they both received for five and four years, respectively, they have also received state-paid, after-school one-on-one Intensive Integrated Support Services (IISS), also home-based, in addition to many other services crucial to their continued improvement.

As a result of these services, both children, continue to make amazing strides, many of which have allowed them to be active within their community, including the ability for family members and others to take them to restaurants, movies, social gatherings, etc. However, despite their progress, given their severe & moderate levels of Autism, respectively, these services are essential for them to continue to improve & progress. Cutting of any of these Medicaid services, at any extent, would prove detrimental.

— Salman Shamsi


Doug & Pam Frank
Cincinnati, OH

Doug is 27 and was born with severe cerebral palsy. Although he is not able to speak verbally, he is able to communicate his thoughts through a letter board. He uses a great deal of expensive equipment including a “g-tube,” a custom-made wheelchair, and an incontinence system. None of these items would have been available for him without the assistance of Medicaid.

Our oldest of four was born with severe involvement of Cerebral Palsy. He is non-verbal, non-ambulatory, g-tube fed and has some Asperger tendencies. He has many needs and is quite bright. He is a delight to engage in conversation on his letter board! Without the I/O waiver, I would have gone insane between my full-time job and the other siblings that need their mother’s attention as well! My son has blossomed because of the intervention from people other than myself giving him input and expecting from him, output. He is one of “the system’s most expensive” because of the g-tube and incontinent needs, the wheelchairs that need to be designed so his tone doesn’t destroy them and the special equipment, like shoes, glasses etc. that he also uses. I feel bad that his needs are great and deeply appreciate the help he gets. I still have plenty to do to help and stimulate him, keep equipment in repair, order supplies, schedule and take him to appointments etc. so I don’t think anyone thinks we are “milking the system” in any way. We cost a lot and we need a lot. Simple as that. No waste here- just need.  Please do not take this away from our son- he has done nothing wrong to deserve this lot in life but does a lot of good with what he has!

— Pam Frank


Donna C. May
Pryor, OK

Donna is 49 and has cerebral palsy. She depends on Medicaid to pay for prescriptions and to ensure she has access to health care.Like many, she has found that it is becoming more difficult to find medical providers who will take Medicaid patients, due to the reimbursement times and difficulty in getting reimbursed by the state.

In Oklahoma the Medicaid program is called SoonerCare. This is the HMO that provides our healthcare. There is another program here called Advantage which provides for those who require the assistance of aides and such. They used to provide LifeAlertsbut due to budget cuts, they no longer do that, which is sad because a person like me who is home alone a lot. When I fall, I can’t always call from a phone to get help…

I challenge members of Congress to try to live like someone on Medicaid for one week and have to struggle to get the services they need. I also challenge them to go for one month on the SSI that many of us have to live on. No amenities and no frills. They have just the $674.00 to live on for one month, which must also cover food, shelter and utilities. I know that many of them could not do it. I can’t do it. I have student loans that must be paid, and I can’t find a job…

— Donna C. May


Madison & Rumisha Rice
Spring, TX

Madison is the child of a loving family who took custody of her at 18 months of age. Madison was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as well as scoliosis, GERD, vision impairment, and epilepsy. Because of her many conditions, Madison is required to see specialty doctors very often, which would not be possible without the help of Medicaid.

Madison was born at 24 weeks gestation, she weighed only 1.4 lbs. She would not be here today if it were not for Medicaid! Not only was she resuscitated at birth, but sometime after her birth Madison also had a seizure and a brain bleed… Madison cannot sit alone, talk, crawl, walk, and she can only see limited distances. My husband and I took custody of Madison at 18 months of age.  Because of Medicaid she has a stander, bath chair, tummy time wedge, and toys. She has many specialty doctors and also goes to therapy three days a week for two hours a day. All of this would not be possible if it were not for Medicaid.

— Rumisha Rice

Logan Arriaga

Logan Arriaga


Tracy Swanner, a young girl with cerebral palsy, and her family

Tracy Swanner with her family


Karlie Hempel, a young woman with cerebral palsy

Karlie Hempel


Emma Wink, a young girl with a disability

Emma Wink


Arsalan and Saleen, siblings with autism, and their family member Salman

Arsalan, Salman, and Sareen Shamsi


Doug Frank, a man with cerebral palsy, and his mother Pam

Doug and Pam Frank