Medicaid Matters: Adante's story

It was a relief to get the care I needed

Adante Pointer was born and raised in Oakland, California. Except for a couple of years at college, he’s been a lifelong resident of the Bay area, where he practices as a civil rights attorney. Reflecting back on childhood years he says, “There was no silver spoon in my mouth. My mom worked part-time jobs to take care of my older sister and me.” The family relied on public assistance to fill the gaps, and on Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program) for health care.

Medicaid meant everything to the small family’s stability and security. As an active, growing boy Adante enjoyed skateboarding and ended up breaking his arm at about age 11. Having Medi-Cal coverage helped him and his mom feel comfortable in seeking medical care because they definitely couldn’t afford a huge medical bill. Adante remembers, “When I got the first cast off, almost immediately I fell again and broke my elbow. I said to myself, ‘Not only am I going to be in trouble, how are we going to afford the bill?’ It was an awakening."

He reflects that he and his sister were fortunate enough to go to a private Catholic school, which provided a good education and extra-curricular activities. Again, Medi-Cal was important because his family couldn’t pay for the required physical to participate in sports. Then, he says, “While in high school, I sustained a football-related injury. I was cognizant of cost and worried about how we would pay for treatment. Mom assured me I could go to the doctor. It was a relief to get the care I needed.”

Medi-Cal also has been vital for his mom, who is diabetic. “I remember her going to the doctor pretty frequently once she was diagnosed. Today we have different treatments for this disease. Back then, the idea of diabetes was frightening: Mom had something that did not have a cure. Plus, there were a lot of medical supplies and we weren’t able to afford any of it. Without medical coverage, what would she have done, and what would we have done? Medicaid gave her a much better quality of life.”

Good health is important, he says, for a sound mind, body and soul. Asked about the importance of Medicaid today, he does not hesitate. “It’s more expensive to be unhealthy than healthy because of all the consequences that flow from not having care when you need it. If you make health care hard to get, the system becomes reactionary and can’t help create a thriving society.”

“I understand that health is wealth. Health care should be made available to all. In fact, it should be a basic right.”

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