Memorial Wall

Honoring Our Loved Ones Who Died in the Medicaid Coverage Gap

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Adrienne Austin

North Carolina

Mother, Daughter, Friend

Adrienne couldn’t get mental health treatment for her postpartum depression because her “family planning Medicaid” had run out 2 months after the birth of her 4th child. Without health insurance she was unable to treat her resulting substance use disorder and died from an accidental overdose.

Annie Ruth Wilson

South Carolina

Sister, Aunt, Great-Aunt, Great-Great Aunt, Cousin

Mrs. Annie Ruth Gerald Wilson was born during segregation in 1942. Mrs. Wilson’s life was adversely impacted by racism, poverty, and educational disparities. She was an uninsured domestic worker when she suffered a massive heart attack in late 2004—6 years prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Had she had access to health insurance and preventative health care, perhaps she would not have suffered such an adverse health outcome. While in the ICU, Mrs. Wilson lapsed into a coma from which she never recovered. She passed away on December 29, 2004. Her family is still burdened by medical debt, over 15 years after her death.

Barbara Bosma Garlock

North Carolina

Mother, Hospital Chaplain, Emergency Assistance Coordinator, and former Healthcare Lawyer

Barbara was going back to school at age 46 to become a hospital chaplain when cancer spread unchecked for 5 months during a period of being uninsured, 3 years before the passage of the Affordable Care Act. By 2013, her family of 4 could no longer afford the exorbitant costs for a cancer recurrence blood test and a $40,000 annual insurance bill. Barbara died at age 53 from stage IV breast cancer.

Brenda Pernell

North Carolina

Wife, Mother and Early Childhood Teacher

Brenda Pernell, affectionately called “Ms. Brenda” by her students, dedicated her life to caring for children. For over 30 years she nurtured, loved, and taught children in the early childhood centers where she worked. Ms. Brenda’s work serving infants and toddlers, who will someday become North Carolina’s future leaders, was a labor of love. Ms. Brenda did the work she felt called to do, even though working in this field often comes with low pay and few benefits. In addition to the children she cared for in the early childhood setting, Ms. Brenda, was a proud mother of three children.

On April 25, 2019, Ms. Brenda’s life was cut short when she passed away after a stroke. Without health insurance, she had been unable to get care for her heart and blood pressure. Ms. Brenda’s family and her community lost a devoted mother, loving wife, and a hardworking teacher. Ms. Brenda and her family paid a price that no one should have to pay.

Carrol Olinger

North Carolina

Mother and retired Kmart employee.

Carrol could not afford her medication, so she cut back on what was recommended by all of her doctors and she missed many appointments because the co-pay was too high. Carrol died in the coverage gap, unable to access the care she needed.