“My name is Judy Roitman. I am a Licensed Masters Social Worker. For the past 2 ½ years I provided medical Social Work for a Primary Care practice serving patients in 13 Appalachian Tennessee Counties. My job was to connect patients with the resources they need to lead healthy lives.
For frail, elderly patients, the TennCare (Medicaid) CHOICES program is a crucial resource. Many people are shocked to learn that long-term Nursing Home care is not covered by Medicare. Most families do not have the extensive resources needed to private pay. For those who qualify, CHOICES covers the cost of Nursing Home care. CHOICES will also cover services to help a person stay in their own home.
I had several elderly patients who were in serious trouble. They lived alone and had no family to care for them. They were unable to get themselves out of bed and could not safely make it to the kitchen or bathroom. These patients desperately needed help. Thankfully, they qualified for CHOICES. The CHOICES coordinator stepped in to arrange Nursing Home placement. There is no doubt the CHOICES program saved their lives.
Other patients were not so lucky. I will never forget the woman I tried to help get care for a new cancer diagnosis. She was in the coverage gap: too young for Medicare, took sick for employer-based insurance, too poor to qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies. In 38 other states she would qualify for Medicaid expansion, but not Tennessee. She could not afford even the most basic diagnostic tests.”