In 2004, I was the victim of a random drive by shooting.
The injuries I sustained left me paralyzed from two inches below my collarbone, and my life was forever changed.
Before the shooting, I was a successful businesswoman and the primary provider for my family. However, my injuries left me in a coma for a considerable period of time. I lost my health insurance during this time. When I was able to return home, I struggled to stay afloat, and eventually lost my home and declared bankruptcy due to $1 million in medical debt. I was forced to confront my new health condition and impending poverty in one fell swoop.
During the early days of recovery, I was worried I’d be unable to afford the care that I desperately needed after I lost my insurance. But I found a program that could help me. To this day, I am forever grateful that I enrolled in Medicare Advantage.
At a time when I felt instability, Medicare Advantage became one thing I could count on. Even with the change in my family’s financial situation, the low premiums and cap on out-of-pocket costs meant that I was still able to afford my medication and treatments.
Now, my life and health has steadied. Without my coverage, it is hard to imagine my recovery would have gone so well.
Because of the difference Medicare Advantage made in my life, I have grown dedicated to promoting health care for all Arizonans, particularly seniors who face health vulnerabilities. Medicare Advantage can be the difference in allowing an individual to receive lifesaving treatment, and we should be doing everything in our power to protect this program.
While I will always advocate for Medicare Advantage here in Arizona, we need Rep. Ruben Gallego and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to also protect this vital healthcare program. Any changes made to Medicare Advantage could result in detrimental changes to the health care plans of millions of Americans like me.
Jennifer Longdon is a member of the Arizona House of Representatives representing Legislative District 24.