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Fox 26 investigates Obamacare's impact on 2 Houstonians with Serious Medical Issues

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

Not knowing if his 30-year-old son Josh can hear him or not is not a good enough reason for Gene Farmer to stop talking to him.

"I believe in my heart he hears me," Farmer said. "I want to believe that."

What Farmer can't believe is how Josh has been treated by medicaid.

To medicaid Josh might be nothing more than a number.

But to Gene Farmer he's everything.

"He is my love of my life," the distraught father said through his tears. "He's my first son and I love him."

Josh loves his sons too.

Here they all are in a photo taken before fate dealt Josh a horrific hand.

March 21st of last year he had a good job and insurance.

24 hours and a 6 car pile up later Josh would be forever changed.

"He will not walk, talk or interact with his children or drive, anything of that nature," Farmer said.

The only things in Josh's future are physical therapy and a life spent in a skilled nursing facility.

But getting the 24/7 care he will always need comes with a price.

"It shouldn't have to be an on-going fight to get somebody to do the right thing by him," said Josh's father.

But it is.

Once his employer realized Josh would never work again they terminated him.

His parents paid into Cobra to keep Josh's insurance coverage.

But Josh's long term coverage is limited to 60 days. His parents were told to enroll Josh into medicaid and get him disability.

But once Josh started getting a monthly disability check medicaid dropped him.

When we shot this video at a west side assisted living facility Josh's medicaid status was pending and the facility wanted him out.

During the short time we were there it was evident the facility wanted him gone.

"Now they have stopped all of his therapy they have done nothing very little," Farmer said. "The supplies in his room have gotten less to where we have to go ask and do all of the things we didn't have to do before."

So what about Obamacare?

We're just 7 months away from the nation's new health care law becoming reality.

It will provide some 30 million uninsured Americans some type of health coverage.

If it was in effect today would someone like Josh benefit?

"Probably not, Obamacare has good things in it but does not do much to address long term care," said former lawmaker Patricia Gray whose now the researcher director for U of H's health policy research institute.

Gray says Obamacare will have no impact on people like Josh who aren't your typical nursing home resident.

"Our long term care system still does not address younger people," Gray said.

"Im 25, I'm unemployed," Krista Ramsey said.

And like a lot of people her age Ramsey has no insurance.

Something she didn't worry about much until this past Easter Sunday.

That's when bald tires and a rain slick stretch of road caused this mangled mess.

"I knew something was wrong because I couldn't get out of the car," Ramsey said.

She was rushed to a hospital by ambulance.

But once her uninsured status came to light the hospital couldn't get rid of her fast enough.

Of course that didn't stop the hospital from sending the unemployed woman a bill for 30 thousand dollars.

Does she have 30 grand to pay it?

"No not at all," Ramsey said.

What Ramsey does have is much more serious then a broken arm and wrist.

She needs surgery A.S.A.P.

"I was going to need rods and pins and screws to put it back together," Ramsey said.

Without surgery Ramsey could lose all mobility in her right arm and hand.

She's got no children she's not pregnant or disabled so Ramsey does not qualify for medicaid.

She's been trying to get help through the Montgomery County Hospital District

Almost 40 days have passed and she says the hospital district has told her nothing.

"I've never gone through anything like this before and I don't know how to do it," Ramsey said. "I'm doing everything everybody's telling me to do but yet here I am a month later and nothing's happening."

So would Obamacare help Ramsey?

Patricia Gray says yes.

"She might qualify for a medicaid expansion program if her income is beyond a 133 percent of the federal poverty level," Gray said. "She'd probably be able to purchase insurance through the health insurance exchange with a subsidized policy."

But even with Obamacare Ramsey might be limited in the type of insurance policy she could afford.

Next year many uninsured Americans will reap a huge benefit from the affordable health care act.

But most health policy experts say low income Americans with expensive medical needs and people who'll need years of long term health care won't benefit from Obamacare.

"Our system will pretty much make sure you don't die," Gray said. "It doesn't do a very good job of making sure you have a quality of life that most of us would find minimally acceptable."

 

 

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