Kansas City Star: KCK artist struggles to stay insured as disease could rob him of his eyesight

By Andy Marso | April 14, 2019

In a small back room of his Kansas City, Kansas, art studio, Michael Brantley pointed out a painting stretching across one wall.

It was a bird’s-eye view of a man playing a trumpet that Brantley said was once part of a temporary exhibit at the American Jazz Museum. A potential big break.

“Then I ended up getting sick, and I can’t do nothing with it,” Brantley said one recent morning.

The last five years of Brantley’s life have been an on-again, off-again battle with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory condition that has sapped his strength, caused his hands to tighten with arthritic pain and threatened to take his eyesight.

At the same time he’s also been fighting with a fragmented health care system, alternating between trying to stay insured and trying to find someone who will treat him when he isn’t insured.

Without treatments that he can’t pay for without insurance, he will go blind. He is only 48.

When Brantley first got sick he didn’t make enough money to qualify for subsidies to buy private insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Then he upped his income and got insured. This year, he lost that coverage, until The Star started asking his insurer questions about why.

He got his coverage back this past week, but only after missed treatments set back his health. His story shows that even with the ACA, one wrong move can still leave sick people without care, especially in states like Kansas and Missouri that have declined to expand Medicaid.

Read more here.