Jessica Branham, DO, OB-GYN, works at Physicians for Women, a federally-qualified health center based in eastern Kentucky. Dr. Branham was able to help dozens of patients get the care they deserved after the Affordable Care Act passed and they finally could get health care coverage through Medicaid.

“I had so many patients coming in to see me saying: ‘You know, I haven’t had a pap smear in 10 years … 15 years,'” Dr. Branham said. When she asked why, the patients said it was because they didn’t have access to health care until the ACA passed.

Unfortunately, for many of these patients, it was too late. Years without access to care because their state didn’t expand Medicaid coverage had left them with late-stage conditions like cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer.

This hit Dr. Branham particularly hard. One of the reasons she chose osteopathic medicine was the concept of preventative care. “It’s easier to prevent disease than it is to treat disease,” Dr. Branham said. “So if we can catch cervical cancer before it’s cancer and it’s just pre-cancer cells, that’s way easier than trying to treat someone who’s already got cancer and needing radiation or chemotherapy.”

Thank you to our partners at Kentucky Voices for Health.