NewsCovering Kentucky


Frankfort woman thankful for Gov. Beshear's actions on Medicaid

Posted at 8:59 PM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-21 05:28:17-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Debi Wittig remembers being in so much pain, she couldn't turn over in bed.

After years without health insurance, her health had deteriorated and her arthritis, degenerative spine disease and severe migraines had left her bedridden.

"I just hit a stage where I just cracked. I couldn't take it anymore," Wittig said.

In her twenties, she was working constantly, she said. Sixteen hour shifts most days.

That's when she was first diagnosed with arthritis, she said, but the real trouble started later on when she took leave from work to care for her terminally ill mother.

Her job wasn't there for her when she was ready to return, she said, and she couldn't find work elsewhere.

"When I re-entered the workforce, I came back damaged goods," she said. "I have extreme pre-existing conditions."

So she went two decades without health insurance, she said.

But when Medicaid was expanded in Kentucky under former Governor Steve Beshear, Wittig qualified.

"Hallelujah, I have healthcare," she said. "Hallelujah."

Her pain became more manageable and she got back on her feet. Today she avoids stairs and uses a cain, but she's walking and has mobility back in her hands. She's also working again.

And she can't afford to lose the coverage, she said.

"The medications that keep me mobile, one of them is over six thousand dollars a month," she said.

But she feared she may once again be uninsured when Governor Bevin announced his Kentucky HEALTH plan, which would require some Kentuckians to meet work requirements in order to receive coverage. The plan has been tied up in court.

"This was not something that I could sit down and say, well we're going to let you do this," she said.

She got involved in a case to fight the waiver with the Kentucky Equal Justice Center.

And this week, she learned that Governor Andy Beshear had rescinded the waiver.

"When he repealed it, oh yes I was a happy camper because it's not just me, it's a hundred other thousand me's," she said. "A hundred other thousand men and women and young people who economically fall in that gap."

She plans to continue to keep a close eye on Medicaid in the future.

"I will pay attention, I will watch," Wittig said. "I keep tabs."