Medicaid is a key to family supports for Nora and her brother Marty

Story by Mike Ervin

Marty with his long time girlfriend Gwen
Nora Fox Handler worries a lot about her 63-year-old brother, Marty.

“He fell through the cracks all of his life,” Nora says. “In high school he was the weird guy who has no friends and was mocked and bullied. He went to junior college and though it took him some extra time, he got an Associate’s Degree in applied electronics but he could never get a job. He lived with our mother who had a boarding stable and he worked on the farm.”

When their mother died, Marty moved in with Nora and her husband. It was then that he was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Marty was in his 40s by then. He also has debilitating anxiety. But having a diagnosis made him eligible for Medicaid and the community-based support services paid for by Medicaid.

As a result, today Marty lives in a rent-subsidized apartment in Woodstock, Illinois and he volunteers for The McHenry County Defenders, an environmental group. Medicaid pays for his medical care and case management. Nora says, “His case manager helps him with grocery shopping, taking care of his apartment and budgeting. He also has a nurse who checks on his meds. He has a primary care doctor and sees a psychiatrist for his anxiety. Medicaid covers all of that. His services allow Marty to live independently in the community.”

Nora is far from the only one in Marty’s family who is invested in his well-being. His older sister is his representative payee for Social Security and Nora’s husband has power of attorney for Marty's healthcare and advocacy.

Marty has a great deal of love and support. But Nora says all the love and support in the world couldn’t keep Marty afloat without Medicaid. “I don't know what we would do if he lost his benefits,” Nora says. “It keeps me up at night worrying about it.”