SPRINGVALE – Several prescription bottles sat on the small, square kitchen table in Patty and Roger Kidder’s cluttered house in Springvale.

Hands quivering, Patty pointed to and explained each medication — three were anti-depressants, one was for anxiety and two control high cholesterol.

Since being kicked off MaineCare last year, they don’t know how they can keep affording their pills, the mortgage and other day-to-day bills.

The prescriptions cost $90 per month, up from about $21 per month when they were on MaineCare.

On the rare occasion they do go to the doctor, they can’t afford it.

“We get a bill, and we don’t pay it,” said Patty Kidder.

For the Kidders, the standoff between Gov. Paul LePage and Democrats in the Legislature over the expansion of Medicaid, which operates in Maine as MaineCare, is not a theoretical debate about political philosophies.

It’s about whether they can avoid bankruptcy and emergency room visits.

The Kidders, who believe they will recover their MaineCare if the Medicaid expansion is approved, say their immediate future hinges on whether a compromise can be reached. They cross their fingers over health scares that in past years would have meant simply calling their family doctor and setting up an appointment.

“Quite frankly, I’m just waiting for the next crisis to come along,” said Roger Kidder, who is suffering from an inoperable hernia, depression, anxiety and high cholesterol. “You totally feel like you’re a disposable person. It’s not a good feeling.”

LePage cut Medicaid last year, and he’s been opposed to expanding Medicaid to about 60,000 childless adults who make up to $20,500 a year under the current Affordable Care Act guidelines. LePage has said that he’s concerned federal reimbursements will not keep up with promises made by President Obama.

The health care law says that the federal government will reimburse the states 100 percent of the Medicaid expansion for the first three years, starting in 2014, and the reimbursement rate in future years will decrease to 90 percent. A Medicaid expansion in 2003 unique to Maine that covers 15,000 adults would be reimbursed at the current 62 percent under the new law, rather than 100 percent, to which LePage also objects.

Democrats, meanwhile, have been pushing for the Medicaid expansion, which is one of the key provisions in Obama’s health care reform. An attempt by Democrats to combine Medicaid expansion with reimbursing hospitals $186 million that the state owes fell apart when LePage vetoed a bill that included both measures. LePage has been lobbying for the hospitals to be repaid what they are owed, due to the state shorting the hospitals for Medicaid reimbursements.

The Kidders, both 54, lost their MaineCare benefits because their daughter, Becky, turned 18 last year. MaineCare covers the parents of minor children, but does not cover parents once children become adults.

The Kidders ended up on MaineCare in 2009 after Roger lost his job in information technology at Spencer Press in Wells.

Roger said when he was laid off he never imagined that, four years later, he would still be trying to find work. He believes it’s because of his age and noticeable hernia.

“My hernia enters the room before I do,” said Kidder, pointing to a watermelon-sized bulge on his side. “People stare at it during job interviews. I’m having a difficult time finding people who believe I can do the job.”

The Kidders’ income has plummeted from more than $50,000 per year to about $11,000, which is mostly income from Patty’s income tax preparation business.

“When you’re knocked from the middle class to below the federal poverty line, your life changes,” Patty Kidder said. They’re barely affording their mortgage and can’t ma=ke improvements on the house. A beat-up RV with broken windows and a flat tire sits in the front yard.

Patty Kidder was one of several people who testified before a state legislative committee in April advocating for the Medicaid expansion.

Kidder was joined by Stacey Jacobsohn of Augusta to testify before the legislators.

Jacobsohn, 52, who is single and currently has MaineCare, said she was told by Maine Equal Justice Partners, a health advocacy group, that she would lose her MaineCare at the end of 2013 if the Medicaid expansion doesn’t go through.

She previously suffered a stroke and takes medication for high cholesterol. She said she’s finishing up a master’s degree in communications by taking online courses at Gonzaga University. The Gonzaga classes and other student debt has left her saddled with $118,000 in student loan debts to pay off.

“If I can’t afford my rent, how can I afford my medication?” said Jacobsohn, who estimates she earns less than $10,000 per year working for a nonprofit. “If something happens, I will just show up at the emergency room with no money.”

Roger Kidder said even before his ailments and losing MaineCare, he has always believed in universal health care.

“To think that someone’s health is based on their ability to pay is obscene,” Kidder said.

Joe Lawlor can be reached at 791-6376 or at:

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