A brief history of Medicaid in Nevada and the people who depend on it

Elisa Castillo de Pena has washed dishes part time at Sunset Station for the past four years.

The 37-year-old wants a full time job and the employer-sponsored health insurance that comes along with it, but nine or 10 of her co-workers are ahead of her on a waiting list — and the little boy that she’ll give birth to in the next two or so months isn’t going to wait.

Castillo looked at all her options when she learned she was pregnant. Divorced, a single mother and part-time worker, Castillo turned to Medicaid.

The Michoacan native who has lived in Las Vegas for the last 20 years counts the medical assistance program as a blessing. One of her friends doesn’t qualify for Medicaid — Castillo thinks the woman may be undocumented — and didn’t have any insurance coverage during her pregnancy.

“If I hadn’t received Medicaid, how would I have been able to go through this having only a part-time job?” Castillo said. “I know there are a lot of women who can’t afford care — pregnancy is so expensive. Some of them are diabetic, or anemic, and don’t have Medicaid.”

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