Despite Affordable Care Act, Kansas City’s Medicine Cabinet Sees Increase in Need

With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, there’s a perception that people might not have to worry about choosing between buying food or buying necessary medications, or between paying the rent or purchasing a much-needed pair of eyeglasses.

Kansas City’s Medicine Cabinet, the metro area’s emergency medical assistance program and a Health Care Foundation grant recipient, has found that those needs haven’t decreased. In fact, requests for emergency medical help are up over last year. Through the end of July, the Medicine Cabinet has aided 2,155 clients and provided 2,298 services, as compared to 2,028 and 2,147, respectively, at the end of July 2013.

Dollars tell the biggest story: through the end of July, the Medicine Cabinet has delivered $488,805 in services. A year ago at the same time, the service costs were $393,038.

At times, the Medicine Cabinet steps in to meet overwhelming needs. For example:

  • Melvin had to go on disability because his right hip had become so painful that he could no longer run the forklift at his warehouse job. Before he could have a hip replacement, however, he needed extensive work on his neglected, infected teeth. During a visit to one of the Medicine Cabinet’s 23 intake sites, Melvin qualified for assistance with dental services. His teeth are being repaired, and then he’ll be able to have his hip replacement surgery. Melvin hopes for a full recovery and a return to his warehouse job.
  • Delroy was the victim of a violent crime. He was badly burned, lost several toes and had sores on his healing feet. The Medicine Cabinet paid for special shoes that helped him walk again.

In other situations, the needs may be simpler — a prescription that costs less than $10, for example. Either way, the assistance has enormous meaning for people who are struggling to pay for daily necessities. Help from the Medicine Cabinet gives hope to everyday Kansas Citians all over the metro — your next-door neighbor, someone you work with, a family friend who has limited coverage from Medicare or Medicaid.

In its nine years of existence, the Medicine Cabinet has provided in excess of $3.6 million for more than 20,000 dental emergencies, diabetic supplies, durable medical equipment (including hearing aids) prescriptions and vision care. Learn more about the Medicine Cabinet and how you can get involved in helping us meet the great need for emergency medical assistance in Kansas City by visiting kcmedicinecabinet.org.


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Health Reform

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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at jsykes@hcfgkc.org.

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