Sherri Harden Tells Her Story

Posted on 06/3/2013 by | AARP New Hampshire | Comments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAARP New Hampshire volunteer Sherri Harden offers this testimony at the June 4 press conference in support of expanding Medicaid in New Hampshire. 

Good morning.  I’m Sherri Harden, a New Hampshire native, born right here in Concord. I have lived in New Hampshire most of my life.  My family was a New Hampshire Yankee farm family and would now be labeled “the working poor.” My Dad was a veteran and worked hard all of his life to provide mere subsistence for his family.   

Even in the darkest of financial times, my mother and father never considered asking for any type of assistance – not that there was much in the early 50s.  I was raised to soldier on, work hard and live on what I earned.  I never imagined a time in my life where I would be faced with financial loss beyond repair. 

On February 12, 2007, I was 59 years old, divorced, working full time in my dream job, and had some savings.  I was care manager and part-time caregiver for my Dad who had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  Life was OK. 

On February 13, 2007, I was 59 years old, divorced, still caring for my dad but unemployed due to a corporate decision to close my office.  I was soon to be uninsured as well as I couldn’t afford the COBRA insurance payments from my unemployment income.  I was obviously concerned, but hoped my unemployment status would be short lived. 

One year later, I was still unemployed, still trying to find a job in the depths of the recession, still uninsured, no unemployment income and close to homelessness.  I was continuing to care for my dad when his wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Her post-operative care needs would be full time and she could no longer care for my dad.  The possibility of having a full-time job was now a moot issue as I would be caring for her as well. 

I would lie awake at night wondering what would happen to all of us if I had a stroke, heart attack, cancer diagnosis or an accident.  My worst fear was that all three of us would have to be in a nursing care facility. 

Needless to say, if at that time I had an opportunity to be eligible for Medicaid insurance coverage, all of us would have lived each day a little easier. The time period for my Medicaid coverage would have been just over a year.  Not a lifetime. 

Medicaid expansion will provide coverage for single individuals that are not eligible for or cannot afford any other type of health insurance, whether unemployed or the working poor. 

AARP supports Medicaid expansion because of the benefits for people ages 50 – 64 who are currently struggling just to stay alive.  Thank you.

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