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Working America Members Fighting for Health Care Access in Virginia

Working America members in the Roanoke area came together to take action for Virginia families who do not have access to Medicaid. At our Feb. 8 organizing meeting, more than a dozen Working America members showed up to share their stories and strategize. Many who attended were personally affected by the Medicaid gap — either they or a loved one were without health care due to the state’s failure to expand Medicaid.

Roughly 30,000 people in Southwestern Virginia could gain health coverage if the state expands Medicaid. The benefits of expanding Medicaid go even further, though. The expansion would create an estimated 15,000 jobs statewide. Many cities in the region see unemployment rates higher than the rest of the state. The creation of 15,000 jobs could have a huge impact on the area.

Everybody should have access to decent, affordable health care, especially if they’ve fallen on hard times financially. But Virginia has some of the tightest restrictions on Medicaid in the country. Many people are excluded from accessing life-saving health care, despite living far below the poverty line.

For years, Virginia has refused to expand Medicaid and provide quality health care to hundreds of thousands of residents. Gov. Ralph Northam has made expanding Medicaid a top priority and now it’s up to the state legislature to act. Many other states have passed Medicaid expansion and given residents greater access to much-needed health care. The benefits are clear, but the Virginia General Assembly still hasn’t taken action.

Working America was on the ground in Southwestern Virginia, knocking on doors and engaging voters on the gubernatorial election. The major issue on the minds of voters was health care. Voters spoke last fall and demanded Medicaid expansion. Now it’s time for legislators to listen to the will of voters and act.

At our organizing meeting, we worked together to come up with strategies to make sure our politicians hear us. Working America members are urging their friends, family members and neighbors to call legislators or show up at their district offices. By demonstrating the strength and scope of the support for Medicaid expansion, we can push our representatives to bring decent, affordable health care to 400,000 Virginians.

The Virginia legislative session ends March 10, and if they fail to pass Medicaid expansion by then, hundreds of thousands of people will continue to live without the health care they deserve. By coming together to engage with their communities, Working America members in Southwest Virginia are fighting to make sure that their representatives do the right thing and expand Medicaid.

Victory for Karla Bigham in Minnesota

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