Jeannie Coley, 43, is a grandmother and Board Member of GRO – Grass Roots Organizing living in the rural town of Mexico, Missouri. Due to a disability caused by mental health conditions, she can’t work, and survives on Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare. While these services help Jeannie to keep a roof over her and her family’s head, they don’t make it possible for her to take care of all her needs for her household, or her health. Jeannie, who lives with her daughter and helps to raise her three grandkids, says, “sometimes, I have to choose between buying my medicine, or buying food for my family.” Medicare allows her to see doctors and buy some medications she needs, but not all of them; particularly, the high cost prohibits her from acquiring a psychotropic drug prescribed by her doctor, as well as her insulin. She says you can buy the medications for a while, but when you hit Medicare’s coverage gap, the cost of Tier 3 and Tier 4 medications skyrocket and become completely unaffordable. Despite her situation, she’s told she doesn’t qualify for Food Stamps, and she’s regularly faced with the impossible choices of how best to take care of her family and herself.
Jeannie believes with all her heart that all people should have access to quality, affordable healthcare. She became a member of GRO many years ago when they stopped by to register her to vote. Jeannie says, “I had been praying for something good to happen in my life, and that’s what GRO did. When I met the people at GRO, they spoke to me about their fight for a fair economy and just society for all.” That mission is exactly what she’s been fighting for since. Calling them her future leaders, Jeannie teaches these values to her grandchildren, taking them to events and GRO meetings where they can learn to stand up for what they believe in. While it can be hard to make ends meet and get by without the medication she needs, Jeannie believes in the power of the people, and will keep fighting to create a country in which everyone has what they need.