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Working America represents at Medicaid Expansion Lobby Day

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Community affiliate of the AFL-CIO joins coalition effort to end the Medicaid Blockade in North Carolina

On Tuesday, Working Americajoined a coalition of organizations including NC AIDS Action Network, Planned Parenthood, Progress North Carolina, the NC Justice Center, and others to press for North Carolina lawmakers and Governor McCrory to reverse course and expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

See photos of Working America in action at N.C. Medicaid Expansion Lobby Day.

Carissa Morrison, Working America Member Coordinator at their Greensboro office, sent us the following report:

Yesterday we executed a lobby visit to our state legislature in Raleigh, North Carolina to discuss our reasons for pushing Medicaid Expansion.

Turnout was great! Working America had 15 members and 4 staff attend the event, which looked great during training when reps from each organization were asked to give a show of hands. We were well represented, and during the training part, Working America member Jolonda Ware helped role-play a sample meeting with a representative. Jolonda's well-known for her personal story about the need to expand Medicaid, and she did a fantastic job!

Following the training, members got to see the press conference, with member Josh Gore repping Working America from behind the podium. Josh and member Barbara Council went with the large group to the petition delivery while the rest of us broke into three groups for the lobby visits.

Our first round of meetings were with two opponents of expansion and one supporter. The meetings were successful, cordial, and no one tried to stonewall us, which was great! This was certainly a great first step, and we all got contact information for follow-ups. Working America members lead the interactions and performed as wonderfully as we could have hoped.

Sen. Trudy Wade's office cancelled our second meeting at the last-minute and never rescheduled with us, so instead we were able to spend the time visiting Sen. Robinson, another proponent of expansion - and leaving notes at the offices of other representatives from the Triad. We ran into Rep. Brockman while hanging outside, and he was able to speak with members and provide contact info. Rep. Brockman was also friendly.

Our last meeting was with Rep. Harrison -- one of our favorite elected officials -- so needless to say, the members were thrilled to meet her, and she was encouraging about the newly introduced legislation to expand Medicaid. It was great to leave on a high note! The members were able to watch from the gallery as the legislative session convened and roll call was performed.

Check out coverage of the lobby day by ABC 11 Eyewitness News and local CBS affiliate WRAL.

How we got here

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost to states to expand Medicaid to 133 percent of the poverty level for the first few years and 90 percent of the cost afterwards.

Since the Supreme Court ruled states cannot be required to expand Medicaid, Republicans in North Carolina have steadfastly opposed expansion, leaving as many as 500,000 North Carolinians stuck in a "Medicaid Gap" where they are too poor to afford health insurance but not poor enough to qualify for federal subsidies that would make insurance affordable.

According to the non-partisan North Carolina Justice Center, since January 1, 2014, our state has lost $4.9 million a day - a total of $2.2 billion by now - in federal funds.

State Senator Terry Van Duyne of Buncombe County said at the press conference that failure to expand Medicaid will end up costing North Carolina $3.3 billion.

"That money would have created 29,000 jobs. And as people in those jobs clothe their families, go to the grocery store, buy homes, pay taxes, the ripple effect of taking Medicaid dollars would create a total of 43,000 jobs by 2020. That is real economic development," said Van Duyne.

Read the NC Justice Center fact sheet: North Carolina’s Medicaid Choice: Options and Implications.