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    Age: 47

    Orange County, FL


    Thanks to continuous Medicaid coverage throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Carlos was able to receive treatment and medication for his back injury and depression. Now, that is ending and Carlos will no longer have access to the health care coverage he needs because Florida does not make coverage available to low-income parents like him.

  • Carlos Rivera, a 47 year old father of two, came to Orlando from Puerto Rico in 2006. He and his wife Dorisela met there, and started a family. After suffering the devastating loss of their first child at 38 weeks of pregnancy, they moved to California to try and escape the pain. Two years later, after their heartache lessened, they moved back to Florida.


    Once back in Florida, Carlos worked for many years in the airport as a luggage handler. Unfortunately, with the heavy lifting he suffered a disabling back injury in January 2019 that resulted in multiple herniated discs.


    Carlos’s inability to work has exacerbated his long standing depression. He has not been able to provide for his family since 2019. He applied for disability in October of 2020 and was denied in September 2022. Since then, he has filed an appeal which is still pending. He takes several antidepressants and sees a therapist for his depression. And, for about 3 years, has been taking prescription medication regularly for the back pain.


    Now, with Carlos’s debilitating health issues, Dorisela must both provide for the family financially and look after the children. As a result, she can only work three days a week at a resort making $17 per hour. The household income is only $1,800 per month, which is well below the federal poverty level of $ 2,500/month for a family of 4.


    “I want to stay in Florida, get better and go back to work,” Carlos said, “but given the long waiting time for disability appeals and the lack of insurance options for healthcare that I need now, maybe we should have remained in California.”  

  • During the early pandemic shutdown, Dorisela lost her job, and both parents became eligible for Medicaid, along with their children. Carlos is grateful that Medicaid has provided essential health insurance. However, given his wife’s income, they are now over Florida’s meager income Medicaid income limit for parents and caregivers, which is only $ 710/month.


    And even though their income is well below the federal poverty level, and Carlos suffers from physical and mental disaiblities that prevent him from working, he and his wife, like many Floridians, were given notice that their Medicaid will end May 31, 2023.


    If Florida joined the 40 other states that have expanded Medicaid, Carlos and Dorisela would remain on Medicaid, along with their children.

  • Read STORIES Of Other Floridians

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  • We are grateful to the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) for their support of the

    "Medicaid | The Lived Experience" STORIES Project.

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