Wisconsin Lawmakers and Cancer Survivors Advocate for Affordable Cancer Care

STODDARD, Wis. (WEAU) – State officials are joining community members in the Coulee area in calling for an expansion of Medicaid to make cancer care more affordable.

The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network hosted an event in Stoddard on Wednesday afternoon to advocate for expanded health care coverage for low-income Wisconsinites.

One of the featured speakers at the event was Mariah Forster Olson, from Galesville, who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of one.

Olson has overcome her illness, but says she needs to see a doctor at least once a week due to late-acting symptoms and other medical conditions.

Although Olson is covered for her exams, she wants to ensure that other less fortunate people have the same chance of receiving quality health care.

“It’s very expensive for me to go to the doctor, and having Medicare and Medicaid has really made it affordable for me to get all the tests and appointments I need,” Olson said. “It should be for everyone, health care should be a right, not a privilege, in this country and in this state.”

Advocates such as Linda DeGarmo of the Cancer Action Network are not only calling on Congress to expand Medicaid nationwide, but imploring state officials to help Wisconsin residents in need.

“Since passing the Affordable Care Act, 38 states have expanded Medicaid, which means that in 38 states people with limited incomes can now access quality, affordable health care,” DeGarmo detailed. “12 states, including Wisconsin, haven’t fully expanded their Medicaid programs, and it’s time for us to do so.”

The Cancer Action Network has the support of Rep. Ron Kind, who is calling on the state legislature to make health care more accessible.

“Republicans in the state legislature refused to expand Medicaid, and since the days of the Affordable Care Act, that means we forfeited $2.8 billion in funding that the federal government would have sent to Wisconsin to fill the coverage gap,” Kind said.

The American Cancer Society says the expansion of BadgerCare would provide 91,000 low-income individuals and families in Wisconsin with access to comprehensive and affordable health care coverage.

Olson hopes her direct experience with cancer, along with the testimony of other survivors, will spur lawmakers to act.

“Using your personal story to help illustrate the need for affordable health care is a powerful thing,” Olson said. “That’s, I think, what legislators remember, as opposed to the details of a bill, they remember personal stories.”

More information on the specifics of what the Cancer Action Network is calling for can be found here.

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