News Article

Virginia Working America members speak out for Medicaid expansion


As the Commonwealth of Virginia kicks off its legislative session, hundreds of thousands of Virginians are looking to their elected representatives in Richmond to take urgent action to protect their health.

Around 400,000 Virginians should have been covered by the expansion of Medicaid  under the Affordable Care Act. But because the Republican-controlled Assembly blocked the program, many families living below the federal poverty line are stuck without health care. Virginia has some of the tightest restrictions in the union on eligibility for the vital health care program.

The devastating impact of this shortcoming came up again and again as our canvassers spoke with Working America members in southwest Virginia during the 2017 statewide elections. Since the November poll, our members have told their personal stories to illustrate the urgent need for reform.

“There is no greater sin than knowing something is wrong and doing nothing about it.” Antonio, Roanoake, VA

Mary, a Working America member in the Tidewater area, told us how her son’s girlfriend lost her baby due to lack of affordable health care:

“She had an infection, but because she was unable to see a doctor due to the insurance coverage lapse, she was unable to get treatment for it. As a result of the untreated infection, she lost the baby. It would have been my first grandchild, and I was looking forward to being grandma.”

Another Working America member in Northern Virginia expressed her fear for her son’s mental health issues:

“My son has a job that does not pay benefits. He cannot afford to purchase health insurance without the expansion. Without the insurance he cannot get medication he needs. You can easily see how this downward spiral works … As my son approaches 26, I fear for his very life!”

It is really no exaggeration to say that providing affordable health care is a life-or-death issue.

Another issue that many people face is an income trap. If you earn low wages, a raise of a few hundred dollars can leave you hundreds or thousands of dollars worse off in lost health care coverage. One Working America member in southwest Virginia described her family’s situation:

“As a family of three, we are well below the national poverty level; however I am only pennies away from not qualifying for Medicaid for my two children. How is it a person can struggle to put food on the table week to week without any unexpected expenses, yet be told they make too much money for Medicaid? How is it a mother or father must risk losing their home to pay for an unanticipated illness or accident all because they make $100 a YEAR too much money? … Expand Medicaid. Help the families who need it!”

The pain in these stories is real. But the good news is that we have the power to act together to make change and improve the lives of thousands of Virginians.

Antonio in Roanoke wrote movingly about a loved one with serious medical conditions. She cannot get Medicaid, despite making just $5,500 a year, because she has no eligible children. He had already contacted several elected officials, including his state senator and delegate, before the session had even begun. “There is no greater sin than knowing something is wrong and doing nothing about it,” he wrote.

These stories are a powerful reminder of the urgency of our action for change. We all do have the power to make it happen. Use the buttons below to get involved.



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