Amber Cowart is a single mom facing challenges a mother shouldn’t have to overcome. She is the primary caregiver for her 20-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, who has Down Syndrome. Health care coverage has been crucial for this family, but Amber lost TennCare coverage when Elizabeth turned 18.
In addition to caring for her daughter, Amber deals with her own myriad of health issues including fibromyalgia, heart and liver disease, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, neuropathy, cataracts, diverticulitis, osteoporosis-deteriorating back and hips, carpal tunnel, and ovarian fibrosis.
“I can’t get out of the bathtub. Elizabeth has to help me. Sometimes I can’t walk, but I can’t stop, I have to take care of my daughter.”
Due to seizures, Amber is unable to drive so they take the bus or walk. “I had two seizures last week. I can’t drive because of the seizures, and it took two hours to get to Kingsport Medical for Elizabeth’s asthma medication. I am exhausted.” However, neuropathy often makes walking difficult. “I’ve got to get everything done, there’s no one else to do it.”
Amber’s vision has been impacted by cataracts, and she feels her sight is failing. Due to an allergic reaction, she’s unable to use the prescribed medications.
Financial concerns prevent her from seeking much needed medical care. Copays are not an option, much less the out-of-pocket costs for treatment and/or prescriptions. The money simply isn’t available.
“I don’t go to the doctor because I’m afraid I’ll have to pay.”
Because she has been denied twice for disability insurance, Amber goes to a faith based medical clinic in her area that serves low income, uninsured patients.
“I go to Providence to the doctor because they don’t charge. I get free flu shots at Shades of Grace because I can’t afford $30 at Walgreen’s.”
This family also relies on food pantries and SNAP benefits.
Tennessee failed to expand Medicaid and because of this, Amber no longer qualifies for assistance since her disabled daughter turned 18. Tennessee Justice Center fights every day for mothers like Amber. She is the perfect example of why Tennessee must expand Medicaid.