Health Care

Diabetic relies on emergency room for care

Vincent Adderly.
Vincent Adderly.

For two years, Florida legislators have refused to expand Medicaid as envisioned under the Affordable Care Act. Their decision left an estimated 850,000 Floridians without healthcare insurance in the "coverage gap." Here are some of their stories.

As a diabetic, Vincent Adderly worries about the debilitating ulcers that form open wounds on his feet.

Without prompt care, the wounds can be slow to heal and even lead to amputation — a risk for diabetics.

Waiting months to see a podiatrist isn’t really an option for Adderly, 46. Instead, he goes to the emergency room at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center, most recently on April 16. He walked in near lunchtime, and left five hours later with a $75 prescription for antibiotics he can’t afford. He’d also gotten care for his feet.

It was his second time ER visit this year for treatment he could have received more quickly and cheaper at a doctor’s office.

But Adderly falls into the Medicaid coverage gap. Unemployed since 2008, living with his father and earning no income, he doesn’t earn enough to qualify for financial help buying a private plan on the Obamacare exchange. Nor does he qualify for Medicaid in Florida.

The foot ulcers are so bad that eventually he couldn’t stand or walk for long periods of time, forcing him to leave his last job as a security guard in 2008.

“I worked all my life, over 20 years,’’ he said.

Adderly could re-apply for the charity care program at Jackson Health System, Miami-Dade’s public hospital network. But he’s been there before, he said. The co-payments are too high and the waits for doctors can take months.

If he had a Medicaid card, Adderly could choose to a provider closer to home, and he would be free to search for doctors without long waits.

“I’d rather go where I want to choose to get my healthcare rather than be told where I have to go,’’ he said. “What happened to my choice?’’