CEDAR GROVE, W.Va. -- Tammy Roberts works five to six days a week as a housekeeper for a nursing home. She's been there almost three years.
"We've been short-handed," Roberts said. People take the job "thinking it's easy and quit when it's not."
When she was married, the lifelong Sissonville resident had health insurance with her husband's plan. She lost it three years ago in the divorce.
Her company offers health insurance but, on $9.50 an hour, the 41-year-old can't afford it.
Roberts takes medication for high blood pressure and gets regular checkups, but she's concerned about not having insurance in the case of an emergency.
"You never know what might happen," Roberts said. "To be able to afford it and go to the doctor when you need to go, it would be such a blessing."
Roberts and an estimated 120,000 other West Virginians would be eligible for Medicaid, should Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin choose to expand the federal program.
Under the Affordable Care Act, states have the option of expanding their Medicaid programs to cover those who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line -- about $26,300 for a family of three.
Currently, West Virginia's Medicaid program doesn't cover childless adults, and only covers parents if the family makes less than 35 percent of the federal poverty level -- about $6,700 for a family of three. (The program also covers children and pregnant women at higher levels.)
For now, Roberts has access to low-cost care through the West Virginia Connect program. Connect participants get care in exchange for having their medical data anonymously folded into a 10,000-person database intended to help health-care leaders make more informed decisions as health-care reform unfolds. The program will end in August.
Should the state participate in Medicaid expansion, the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost for the expansion population during the first three years. After that the federal match would gradually drop to 90 percent.
Tomblin is awaiting results of an actuarial study -- due this month -- about the state's costs of expansion.
Officials at Cabin Creek Health Systems have collected stories from Roberts and more than 100 other West Virginia Connect participants in the hopes of meeting with Tomblin to advocate for Medicaid expansion.
So far the community-based health center has collected 112 letters from West Virginia Connect participants who would qualify for Medicaid if it's expanded.
"I think the expansion of Medicaid is one of the most important things that we can see happen," said Amber Crist, Cabin Creek's education and program development director. "Connect was supposed to be the bridge to expansion. We felt it was important [participants] know the importance of expansion and that they be advocates for themselves."