SOS protests on Capitol steps in Montgomery to make Medicaid Expansion a key issue in Nov. 8th election

SOS members push for Medicaid Expansion at State Capitol in Montgomery

Members of the Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS) held a press conference and speak-out for Medicaid Expansion on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery on October 14th.
“We recognize that every issue is a voting issue as we approach the November 8th General Election in Alabama, we are here today on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol, where Governor Ivey has her office, to highlight and elevate Medicaid Expansion as a critical and deciding issue in this election,” said former State Senator Hank Sanders of Selma, an SOS Steering Committee member.
“We have been here urging our Governors – Robert Bentley and Kay Ivey – for the past eight years since 2014, to sign the agreement to expand Medicaid to serve 300,000 working poor people, who need health care insurance. This has become more critical since the coronavirus pandemic has impacted more people with underlying medical conditions. Many of these people were unable to seek medical assistance before it was too late because they didn’t have health insurance,” said retired UA Constitutional Law professor, Martha Morgan, also an SOS Steering Committee member.
Medicaid Expansion will provide healthcare coverage for people up to 138% of poverty level income, $14,000 for a single person or $24,000 for a family of four, in Alabama. There are 300,000 people, Black and White, who fall in the gap between current Medicaid eligibility ($4,600) and eligibility to purchase subsidized insurance on the  Affordable Care Marketplace in Alabama. These are the people who would be covered if the Governor signed the agreement to provide Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
SOS has been coming to these Capitol steps for eight years to protest and urge our Governor to Expand Medicaid. Governor Ivey’s staff said the funds were not available for taking this step. We know there are funds in the American Rescue Plan, which would give states like Alabama an incentive in their current Medicaid reimbursement, if they expanded Medicaid to those in the coverage gap. There are funds to cover the cost of the first three years of coverage, after which the state would have to pay 10% of the cost and the Federal government would pay 90%, as it does now for people in other states,” said John Zippert, Co-Chair of the SOS Health Committee.
“Governor Ivey has no more excuses for not signing to Expand Medicaid. She continues to resist and oppose needed healthcare coverage for working poor people in Alabama. According to a Kaiser Healthcare study, 500 to 700 people, each year in Alabama, are dying needlessly because they do not have this healthcare coverage. The pandemic has highlighted this problem even more and proportionately more Black and low-income people have died from COVID-19 because they were not treated for their underlying health conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, and others,” said Zippert.
“If the Governor expands Medicaid, it will create as many as 30,000 new jobs in healthcare and ancillary fields. State taxes paid by these workers will help the state to pay its 10% share of the cost of Medicaid Expansion. This will also help rural hospitals, in fact all hospitals, to stay open and be more financially viable, because more people will have insurance to pay toward their bills, said Zippert, who also serves as the Chair of the Board of the Greene County Health System.
Martha Morgan mentioned that former Republican Governor, Dr. Robert Bentley, a dermatologist in Tuscaloosa, has come out publically saying the State of Alabama can now afford to expand Medicaid and help more people to have needed health insurance.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Yolanda Flowers, has stated that she supports Medicaid Expansion. Other statewide and local Democratic candidates also support Medicaid Expansion.
“SOS strongly urges every voter to turn out to vote on November 8 and look at the records of the candidates on issues like Medicaid Expansion, voting rights, and criminal justice reform. Expanding Medicaid is the single step that would help our state the most. Expanding Medicaid will save lives, will help 300,000 people to have health insurance, will create 30,000 jobs in every county in the state, keep rural hospitals open and will help everyone in Alabama to have a better quality of life,” said Hank Sanders.

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