By Mahi Palanisami

A few summers ago, I worked for a company teaching summer camps. During one hot summer day, a tired looking camper said he felt ill after returning from playground break. I told him to drink some water, and then the teaching assistant and I made a little place for him to lay down. After 5 minutes we asked him if he felt better, and he said no.

I became worried. I contacted the administrators of my company, and they didn’t have much advice. I called and left a message with the ill student’s parents. We let him rest for another 5 minutes and then talked to him again. He said his stomach hurt. His poor body was limp, and he didn’t want to move.

My worrying became deeper. This was unusual. What if something was severely wrong?  

I had just signed up for Medicaid. I remembered a nurse’s line on the card. I pulled the card out of my wallet and called the number.  A nurse picked up and I explained my situation. She directed me to press areas of his stomach. No pain? No appendicitis. No pain? No kidney problems…

We finished and she said we finished protocol. Nothing found. For now, let him rest and talk to his parent when they arrive.  

Phew! I got to talk to an expert, and she wasn’t panicking, so I stopped panicking. We all ended up being fine, including the student. The teaching assistant discovered his chosen attire of ski pants had caused heat exhaustion.

My boss and colleagues asked how the day went, and I explained the Medicaid nurse’s line. They were impressed; a big thumbs up for Medicaid.

During this time, my partner, Matt, designed and sold 3D printed jewelry online. I thought youth may enjoy 3D printing classes, and began offering classes. Our classes started to become popular. We started a company.  

Matt was adamant we continue to have health insurance. I was already on Medicaid, and he had purchased health insurance through the marketplace. I knew if I looked for health insurance for the both of us on the marketplace it would cost money that we didn’t have. I did some research and found as small business owners, I maintained my Medicaid insurance, and Matt also qualified for Medicaid.


Then, one day I woke up in the morning and my groin area was numb. I panicked.

I called  La Clinica, my local clinic, and made an appointment. At the appointment, I was poked, questioned, and had blood drawn. I was prescribed a horrifying MRI scan. Was it a tumor? Was it a different type of growth?   

The results came back. I had wimpy back muscles and had injured myself. Embarrassing. I was assigned to a physical therapist. My nerves returned.

Throughout this journey, I received consistent care through my Medicaid provider, La Clinica, where professionals kindly took care of me.  

I worry that as our company grows, we will get the benefit of owning a company, but we will lose the benefits of Medicaid, and the continuous care from my preferred provider, La Clinica.

Then I learned about creative ideas to offer an option to purchase Medicaid in Colorado by using existing state infrastructure, such as House Bill 19-1004, known as the “Proposal For Affordable Health Coverage Option”. For more information on the bill, click here

If this legislation were to become a reality, I could keep seeing my Medicaid providers and not stress about losing La Clinica because I would be paying a premium to have affordable Medicaid coverage.

I am also pleased that this state coverage option would be competitive with the marketplace, and would offer me the lowest price. A competitive price along with the option of staying at the same clinic is perfect for my family.

The state coverage option includes many positives that will stabilize my life. As my company grows, having reliable health insurance and health services would be a huge relief. Often I am intimidated to dig deep and understand what my health care rights are or what they could be. Learning about the possibilities, like the state coverage option, helps shift me to say we all deserve better.

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