By Amy Goldstein | March 15, 2021

Kelly Percival had insurance through her customer service job with a Tampa roofing company when, early last year, she severely fractured her right ankle. After two metal plates and 16 screws to realign her ankle bones and two months off her feet, she called her boss last March to say she could come back to work. Don’t bother, she was told. Amid the newly begun coronavirus pandemic, the company was downsizing.

If Percival, long divorced and now unemployed, lived in most of the United States, she could have turned to Medicaid after her Blue Cross Blue Shield plan disappeared along with her income. Instead, she is among 4 million people the insurance does not reach because they live in one of a dozen states that have not expanded Medicaid even as the rest of the country has been widening the health-care safety net.

But the vast coronavirus relief strategy that President Biden signed into law last week might allow Percival to stop skipping the follow-up orthopedic appointments for her ankle that she cannot afford.

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