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Former Machinist Gets By With Help of Medicaid, Free Medication

Ronald Campbell

Ronald Campbell of Baltimore has no private health insurance. (Newsline photo by Mike Santa Rita)

Maryland Newsline
Tuesday, April 12, 2005

BALTIMORE - Ronald Campbell, a former machinist,  has been out of work and on disability since 1994.

He's managed to get by without private health insurance - despite needing medications for diabetes, ulcers, depression and other ailments - with the help of Medicaid and a Baltimore-based nonprofit organization called Medbank.

Campbell, 52,  grew up in East Baltimore and graduated from Northern High School in 1972.

Wearing leg braces until he was about 7 because of cerebral palsy he'd had since birth, Campbell has found life a continual struggle.

“I struggled and struggled to do things better and tried  my best to do things,” he said.

He worked as a machinist for 12 years at Koppers Inc., where he made metal products like piston rings, he said. But in 1994 he lost his job, he said.  

Soon a combination of depression that followed his father’s death, the onset of diabetes and problems with his cerebral palsy forced him to stop working, he said.

“I  found a security guard job, but then I just started to get sicker and sicker, so I had to stop,” he said.

“Sometimes I just couldn’t get around like used to. It hurt a lot. ... My father died, and I started drinking. I fell into depression,” he said. “All the pain I was in, I just couldn’t function no more.

“My legs just started getting worse, and then my arms.

“I could walk, I just couldn’t do it as well as I used to.”

He says he now takes12 medications for diabetes, ulcers, depression and other ailments. They cost about $3,000 a month. With a monthly disability check of $900 as his only income, he asks: “Who can afford that?”

Campbell said his doctor's visits and most of his medications are covered by Medicaid. The medications that Medicaid does not cover are covered by Medbank, a nonprofit funded by state and private donors dedicated to providing medication to the uninsured poor.

Without Medbank’s help, he said, “I’d get sicker.”

--By Mike Santa Rita

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Copyright © 2005 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism