Dennis and Melody Barton's story is also included in the letters. The Glasgow couple moved in with Dennis' mother to help make ends meet after health problems forced him to stop working.
"We couldn't even afford to live by ourselves anymore because of the fact that he can't work," said Melody Barton, 52.
Dennis Barton had made good money as a pipelayer before the injury and later a heart attack. Now he's tried to get disability assistance. He had been on Medicaid but was recently notified he is no longer eligible, Melody Barton said.
She works 30 hours each week as a produce manager at the Cedar Grove Save-A-Lot.
The couple lives near the store and she walks to work to save money on gas.
Her workplace doesn't offer insurance and, on $8.50 an hour, she can't afford it otherwise.
"Before we could help the kids at any time," Melody Barton said. "He has two kids, I have two kids. We can't even do that now. It's just one of those things."
Barton takes medication for restless leg syndrome and Prozac for menopausal symptoms. On the West Virginia Connect program's sliding scale she pays around $30, but that cost will jump to $400 when the program ends in a few months, she said.
Barton isn't eligible for Medicaid now, but she would be if West Virginia were to expand the program.
Another Connect participant, Debra Cook, works 39 hours a week for $9 an hour at an adult daycare for patients with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
A hairdresser for 25 years, the 54-year-old Witcher Creek resident needs knee-replacement surgery. She needs surgery on her hands, too, because of carpal tunnel syndrome, but her knees are worse, she said.
"They ache like a toothache," she said. "Both are bad but the left kneecap is basically gone. The winter is worse than the summer because of the cold. The carpal tunnel is like needles shooting up and down your arm."
Cook said she isn't looking for a handout -- she's worked since she was 16 years old. But she wants Medicaid to be expanded not only for her but for the seniors she works with -- some of whom must choose between medicine and food some weeks.
"Charity begins at home," Cook said. "We need to help our people before we go out of the country. I have worked since I was 16 years old and there's no help for us."
Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.