Dill, estranged from her husband, was raising three children aged 3, 7 and 9 by herself. Charlene was supposed to bring her three children over to the South Orlando home of her best friend, Kathleen Voss Woolrich. The two had cultivated a close friendship since 2008; they shared all the resources that they had, from debit-card PINs to transportation to baby-sitting and house keys. They helped one another out, forming a safety net where there wasn’t one already.
Dill’s death was not unpredictable, nor was it unpreventable. She had a documented heart condition for which she took medication. But she also happened to be one of the people who fall within the gap created by the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, which was a key part of the Affordable Care Act’s intention to make health care available to everyone. In the ensuing two years, 23 states have refused to expand Medicaid, including Florida, which rejected $51 billion from the federal government over the period of a decade to overhaul its Medicaid program to include people like Dill and Woolrich – people who work, but do not make enough money to qualify for the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies. They, like many, are victims of a political war – one that puts the lives and health of up to 17,000 U.S. residents and 2,000 Floridians annually in jeopardy, all in the name of rebelling against President Barack Obama’s health care plan.Dill had been bumped off Medicaid because she was making too much money – an estimated $9,000 a year – and had yet to be able to afford a divorce, which might have bettered her chances.
According to the DCF website, parents are only eligible if their income is less than or equal to 19 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. The Federal Poverty Level for a household of four in 2014 is $23,850. Charlene Dill would have missed that mark if she made more than $4,531.50. Medicaid expansion would have raised that percentage of FPL to 138 percent, or $32,913, and would also have included non-parents in a household of just one that made less than $16,104.Coincidentally, Kathleen Voss Woolrich found out she lost her Medicaid benefits on April 2 after driving all the way from Conway to Kissimmee to see a doctor that would accept Medicaid – on a day off from canvassing for the ACA.
Charlene's best friend, Kathleen Voss Woolrich has spent the better part of 2014 canvassing for the Service Employees International Union and for Planned Parenthood in an effort to educate people about Medicaid expansion and to enroll residents of poor neighborhoods into the Affordable Care Act’s medical-care exchanges. During the course of her work, she saw women with tumors that had yet to be treated, many chronic conditions affecting people living in the gap, and sometimes she found herself having to be the bearer of bad news. March 21 was her day off. She was looking forward to getting away from the politics. “I was off. Spring break was going to start for me and her kids,” she says.“Going into election season, basically we have the spirit and the memory and the mantra of Charlene Dill. We need to make sure that there are no more Charlene Dills that are victims of this system,” says SEIU's Monica Russo. “That’s our mandate. Charlene Dill goes on. Make sure that her legacy is alive.”
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Update: Kossack Eileen B provided a link that was setup by her best friend Kathleen Voss Woolrich to pay for Charlene's funeral expenses last month.
And a picture of Charlene with her three beautiful kids: