Medicaid Won't Cover Surgery for Woman With Deformed Face

Lisa Medina isn’t asking to look like a beauty queen – she just wants a ‘normal’ looking face.

Medina, 22, who is from the Montrose-area in Michigan, was born with Tessier Cleft, a congenital defect that has left her underdeveloped face slashed wide-open on both sides – from her roofless mouth to the empty spaces where her eyes should have been, reports

Medina has had 63 surgeries and she needs more – except she still has to convince Medicaid to cover them.

“I’ve been fighting all my life,” Medina said. “That’s all I know how to do. First, I fought just to stay alive. Then, I fought my way through school. Now, I’m fighting Medicaid.”

Doctors have built the missing structures from Medina’s face. They’ve done bone, skin and cartilage grafts and they gave her glass eyes.

But, now that she is an adult, Medicaid doesn’t want to cover the surgeries, Medina said.

Up until she was 18, Medina’s medical treatments were covered by MIChild, which provides state aid for low-income children.

Since she has switched to Medicaid, she said she has had problem after problem: They’ve steadily denied services and procedures, saying the surgeries are cosmetic and not necessary.

Click here to discuss this story.

Medina needs a surgery to close the gaping hole in her hard palate, she told the newspaper. Previous surgeries to correct that problem have failed and her doctor wants to try a new technique using skin from her ear.

“I had to keep arguing, no, it’s not cosmetic,” Medina said. “I don’t want shooting food out of my nose when I’m in public. (It’s) kind of hard to make friends that way. I finally convinced them I could end up with serious sinus infections and throat problems.”

However, Medina’s doctor is located in North Carolina - and Medicaid is now telling her they don’t pay for surgeries that take place out-of-state.

"Sure, I could probably find another doctor. But I've been under the same doctor's care since I was six-hours-old,” Medina said. “He's the one I trust. He's done every single one of my surgeries."

Click here to read the full article from and to see a video of Medina.