I’m writing about expanding the Medicaid (MaineCare) health program, not for myself, but instead for a lovely woman who works for Catholic Charities.

I’m one of the people who are ill or disabled that she helps with things they can no longer do. Often people think of those on MaineCare as lazy, jobless bums. This woman works weekdays and on almost every holiday. She doesn’t get paid if she doesn’t work.

Like others who tend to the sick and disabled in their homes, her wages are very low. She discovered, when she tried to refill the prescription that helps her breathing, that she had been thrown off MaineCare because the governor decided not to accept the federal Medicaid expansion offer. She hadn’t even received a notice.

This woman is horribly worried. She is already starting to feel sicker, with more trouble breathing because she can’t afford to buy her medications. She worries she will end up in the hospital and be unable to work.

It’s easy to demonize the poor when you don’t know them. This woman is out helping others every day, but there’s no one to help her. These are real working people who count on MaineCare to help them stay well enough to keep on working.

Many of the people who qualify for expanded MaineCare are hard-working people who are paid low wages. They can’t afford insurance so they can see their doctor or pay for their medications. Without her medication, this woman could become so sick she can no longer work. Then she will qualify for MaineCare, but how will that help the state?

I urge others to ask their legislators to vote to help the working poor who need medical care to keep on working.

Shirley BartlettAugusta