Every day North Carolina’s senior citizens and their families worry about how to pay for health care coverage. Many depend on Medicare, but a large number fall into the “coverage gap” that leaves them vulnerable to life’s aging health challenges. Here is one family’s very personal story.

Dear NC Legislators,

I need to know what Medicaid Expansion looks like for NC seniors, specifically seniors who need special care. Currently the max income limit to qualify for a Special Care Unit in an Adult Care Home is $1515 a month. That includes the cost of Medicare Part B, which currently is $134 per month. This means that to qualify for assistance, your Social Security check can be no more that $1381 per month. Not $1382. One dollar over the max and you do not qualify. With the average cost for an assisted living facility at $3000 per month, what are seniors to do? How will they pay their MediGap insurance?

My mother has Alzheimer’s. Her income from Social Security is $1831. She does not qualify for special assistance, and I have no idea what I am going to do when the day comes that she needs full-time care. That day is coming very soon. How will I pay the $222 she must have for her MediGap plan? What about the $100 a month for prescription medications?

My mother is not alone. As I have called around to agencies and care facilities looking for answers, I have been offered the comfort of knowing that they hear from families every day who are stuck in this same situation–too poor to afford assisted living, too “rich” to qualify for the help they need. There are an estimated 160,000 North Carolinians living with Alzheimer’s. Countless others live with various types of dementia. Who will help our aging neighbors? What provisions are in Medicaid Expansion for seniors who cannot care for themselves? Please don’t leave them out. I write this knowing that any help that comes will come too late for my mother. I hope that you will hear me and legislate help for the mothers to come.

Shelby R., Raleigh, NC