Virginians In the Coverage Gap Tell Their Stories and Urge Legislators to Pass Medicaid Expansion

A video of this event can be found here.

Richmond, Virginia–On Monday morning, Virginians gathered to tell their stories about living in the coverage gap and urged legislators to vote Wednesday to expand Medicaid. Passing Medicaid expansion would mean more than 400,000 Virginians who don’t currently qualify for Medicaid, but still can’t afford health insurance would be able to get covered and see a doctor when they get sick.

“Republicans no longer have an excuse for not passing Medicaid expansion in Virginia,” Anna Scholl, Executive Director of Progress Virginia, said. “All Virginians deserve to be able to see a doctor when they need one, regardless of income. We are here today to urge legislators to vote for Medicaid expansion and allow hardworking Virginians to live secure in the knowledge that if a health care crisis strikes, they will be able to get the care they need.”

Four Virginians shared their stories of living in the coverage gap.

“I’m a home care worker, so I’m the person who comes to your house and takes care of your loved ones, but because I don’t have health insurance, there’s no one to take care of me,” Laura Clark said. “The one time I did go to the doctor, they told me it would cost $185 for just a 10 minute appointment. There’s no way I can afford that, so I left the doctor’s office, and I didn’t get to see the doctor even though I really needed to.”

“I was in the hospital for an emergency for 12 days. I went home with a $400,000 bill and couldn’t afford to take the medication I needed,” Keith Oliver said. “After my stroke, I was unable to complete my physical therapy, and because of that, I have never fully recovered.”

“My husband was laid off, and we lost our health insurance. We went without any health care so that we could scrape by and our children’s medical needs would be met,” Shawn Pharo said. “Health care is a basic human right. All of us, old, young, wealthy, or poor, should be able to get healthcare when we need it. It is legislators’ job to step up and expand Medicaid so that hardworking Virginianscan live without the fear that comes without having health insurance.”

“I’m trapped in the gap,” Christopher Rashad Green said. “I am trapped without health insurance because legislators are playing politics with people’s lives and have refused to act and expand Medicaid to help all Virginians.”

Nationally, Republicans failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, so the legislation is here to stay for the foreseeable future. State legislators will vote on Wednesday on expanding Medicaid, which is an optional provision of the Affordable Care act.