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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - While so much of the debate about healthcare has become politically polarizing, two U of L physicians want to bring attention back to the core issue. Regardless about how you feel about the Affordable Care Act, the fact is, patients in Louisville are dying simply because they don't have insurance.
The stories that U of L Doctors, Mike Stillman and Monalisa Tailor have to share are enough to break your heart.
"We wanted to let people see on a daily basis," Stillman said.
They work here at U of L's Ambulatory Internal Medicine Clinic.
"This man knew how much a colonoscopy cost and he said I haven't done it because I can't afford it," Tailor explained.
That patient, "Tommy", as the doctors call him, worked his whole life so he didn't qualify for Medicaid but also couldn't afford his own insurance. He knew he was sick but also knew how much going to the doctor would cost, so he didn't. When Tommy finally showed up at the clinic, the doctors had to tell him he had terminal colon cancer. He chose to forgo treatment, knowing he wouldn't' be able to pay.
"It happens all the time," said Stillman.
It would be one thing if Tommy's story was rare, but they say it isn't.Feeling they couldn't stand back and watch anymore .they wrote about Tommy's story and about needing to bridge the gap for patients falling through the cracks in a newly published article in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The numbers speak for themselves an estimated 22% of all American adults do not have health insurance. An estimated 700,000 live in Kentucky.
Both doctors are in favor of expanding Medicaid. They also support state exchanges like Kentucky's Kynect.
"I think legislators who don't agree with the Affordable Care Act or who are actively working against it really owe it to their constituents to come up with something better. It's simply not acceptable to say the status quo is good enough," said Tailor.