Kansas Reflector: Kansas mother makes plea for Medicaid expansion after donations spare her from death

By Noah Taborda | Nov. 29, 2020

TOPEKA — For months after being diagnosed with an advanced stage of uterine cancer, Shelby Fehrenbacher resigned herself to death.

Fehrenbacher, a 29-year old mother of four living in Topeka, was diagnosed with the deadly disease last year. Doctors told her she needed surgery to survive, but she could not afford the $4,000 cost.

During her time of greatest need, she found herself in the Medicaid gap. Fehrenbacher made too much money working to qualify for KanCare — the program through which the state administers Medicaid — but didn’t earn enough to fully fund her own treatment.

“I was just so depressed,” Fehrenbacher said. “I would look at my four children every day and just decide that I am just going to die as peacefully as I can. I don’t know what else to do here.”

Unable to afford the treatment and out of hope, she found herself in a similar situation to hundreds of thousands of Kansans and millions nationwide. Fehrenbacher was lucky to have supporters fund her treatment, but she said the ordeal was indicative of inequities in health care.

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