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Protect Our Care Marks Medicaid Awareness Month with Activities Nationwide Showing Critical Importance of Medicaid as Americans Grapple with Coronavirus Crisis

By May 1, 2020No Comments

Protect Our Care marked Medicaid Awareness Month throughout April with activities nationwide, highlighting Medicaid’s overwhelming importance as the country grapples with a crisis that threatens Americans’ health and safety. Medicaid is an essential program for more than 70 million Americans currently receiving coverage, including more than 35 million children and 7.2 million seniors. Despite its successes, Medicaid is continuously under attack from President Trump and Republicans. From proposing massive cuts to Medicaid in his budgets, his Texas lawsuit that would end Medicaid expansion to encouraging states to impose draconian work requirements and block grants that would kick people off the rolls, Trump has been on a long march to end Medicaid since the day he took office. 

“Medicaid is a lifeline for millions of Americans, and its importance has never been more clear as America grapples with the coronavirus crisis that threatens everyone’s health and safety,” said Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse. “Despite its successes – providing health insurance to children and those with disabilities and coverage for seniors and Americans in rural communities – Medicaid is still under attack from President Trump and Republicans who want to gut the program and end Medicaid expansion at a time when the health and safety of Americans has never been more at risk. April was Medicaid Awareness Month, but every day we will fight to defend a health care program that so many millions of Americans rely on.” 

Here’s a look at the activities and some of the news coverage that took place over Medicaid Awareness Month:

NATIONAL:
Wednesday, April 1 – Medicaid is A Critical Part of America’s Response to the Coronavirus, But President Trump Wants to Gut It
The Medicaid program is a critical part of our response to coronavirus, but President Trump is waging a war on Medicaid. Here are the ways the Trump administration is trying to gut Medicaid and the ways Medicaid is essential to America’s coronavirus response: Read the full fact sheet here.

Tuesday, April 14th – Press Call with Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), Congressman Colin Allred (TX-32), Andy Slavitt on the Overwhelming Benefits of Medicaid Expansion During the Coronavirus Crisis
Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) along with Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX-32), former CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt and Protect Our Care held a press call to discuss the overwhelming benefits of Medicaid and why Medicaid expansion is needed now more than ever as America grapples with the coronavirus crisis. Listen to the call here and read POC’s report, “Medicaid Expansion, A Critical Part Of America’s Response to the Coronavirus, Is Under Threat From President Trump” here.

  • North Dallas Gazette: Rep. Allred Op-Ed: Now more than ever, Texas must expand Medicaid to save lives [4/27/20]
  • Alabama Daily News: New Coalition Pushes For Medicaid expansion, Republicans Remain Reluctant [4/16/20]
  • WKRG (CBS Mobile): Sen. Jones: Coronoavirus Shows Need For Medicaid Expansion [4/14/20]
  • AL.com: Why Hasn’t Alabama Expanded Medicaid During The Pandemic? [4/15/20]
  • Montgomery Advertiser: “The Coronavirus Outbreak Has Upended Daily Life In Alabama, But One Fact Remains Constant: Republican Leaders Resist Medicaid Expansion.” [4/15/20]
  • WKRN: Democrats push for Medicaid expansion in next coronavirus relief plan [4/15/20]

Monday, April 20th – Press Call with Senator Angus King (I-ME) Discussing Critical Importance of Medicaid for Rural Communities During the Coronavirus Crisis
Senator Angus King (I-ME) along with State Rep. Anne Perry (D-Calais, ME) and Protect Our Care discussed the overwhelming benefits of Medicaid for rural communities’ access to health care as America confronts the coronavirus crisis. Listen to the call here and read POC’s report, “Rural America in the Balance: Medicaid, Coronavirus & Rural Hospitals,” here.

  • WABI 5: Rural hospitals feeling the financial strain of fighting COVID-19 [4/20/20]
  • FOX 22: Pandemic especially hard on rural healthcare providers, King says [4/21/20]

ARIZONA
Thursday, April 30th — Rural Health Zoom Roundtable with State Rep. Charlene Fernandez, Providers and Health Care Advocates
Protect Our Care Arizona hosted a virtual roundtable with Jeff Jeans—a cancer survivor—and Rep. Charlene Fernandez, the Democratic Leader of the Arizona House of Representatives who represents Arizona’s fourth legislative district, which includes a handful of rural counties. Jeff Jeans, who survived advanced cancer and relies on the Affordable Care Act for ongoing access to care described how ongoing Republican health care sabotage leaves Arizonans like him at risk. Speakers on the call urged lawmakers to protect Arizona’s rural hospitals, which are playing a critical role in combating coronavirus in the state. You can see a recording of the roundtable here.

COLORADO
Tuesday, April 7th – Our Lives on the Line Digital Town Hall
Protect Our Care was joined by health care advocates, consumers, and experts on a Digital Town Hall to discuss the critical role Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act are playing in Colorado’s response to COVID-19. Medicaid expansion granted coverage to 453,400 Coloradans, including children, seniors, and people with disabilities. With more than 80,000 Coloradans filing for unemployment due the pandemic, it is especially important for low-income adults to have a place to turn for coverage in this public health emergency. Watch the entire Digital Town Hall here.

  • Colorado Times Recorder: Why Are Gardner and Trump Trying to Dismantle Obamacare During a Pandemic, Ask Advocates [4/7/20]

Friday, April 17th – Op-Ed by Alice Kresh
Alice Kresh, whose son was diagnosed with a severe defect called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia and relies on Medicaid for access to care, penned an op-ed in the Colorado Independent on the importance of protecting the program. “Even in the face of a global health crisis, the Trump administration and our own Senator Cory Gardner continue to sabotage and attack Medicaid, leaving Coloradans’ health care hanging in the balance. Republicans have spent years undermining Medicaid and Trump’s war on Medicaid has been cruel and unending. For families like mine, these attacks have real and dangerous consequences.”

  • The Colorado Independent: Medicaid saved my son’s life, it saves lives in a pandemic too [4/17/20]

Thursday, April 30th — Rural Health Zoom Roundtable with State Sen. Kerry Donovan, State Rep. Dylan Roberts and Health Care Experts
Protect Our Care Colorado hosted a virtual roundtable with State Senator Kerry Donovan (SD 5), Representative Dylan Roberts (HD 26), Adam Fox with Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, and Ross Brooks, the Chief Executive Officer of Mountain Family Health Centers to discuss the critical role of Medicaid in supporting rural Colorado’s response to COVID-19. Speakers on the call highlighted how Medicaid has allowed hospitals in rural Colorado to remain open, but warned that the coronavirus pandemic is straining these resources. Participants explained how now more than ever, it is both irresponsible and outright cruel for Trump and Republicans to wage a political war on our access to health care. You can see a recording of the roundtable here.

Thursday, April 30th – Former Governor John Hickenlooper (D-CO) Marks Medicaid Awareness Month with Former CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt
“April is Medicaid Awareness Month. When I was Governor, we passed bipartisan Medicaid expansion and got nearly 95% of Colorado covered. Today, Republicans are still attacking Medicaid. I spoke with @ASlavitt about why we need to protect access to health care now more than ever.” [John Hickenlooper Twitter, 4/30/20]

GEORGIA
Monday, April 13th – Press Call with State Sen. Nikema Williams
Protect Our Care Georgia was joined by Dr. Melanie Thompson and State Senator Nikema Williams on a press call to discuss how Georgia’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is undermining the response to COVID-19. 885,000 Georgians could have gained health coverage if Georgia had expanded Medicaid under the ACA. Senator Williams also discussed her experience contracting and recovering from COVID-19, and Dr. Thompson, an HIV expert, highlighted the importance of providing care for everyone to ensure the health and safety of the entire community. Listen to the press call here.

Wednesday, April 29th – Digital Press Conference on Rural Health
Protect Our Care Georgia convened a digital press conference to discuss how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting rural Georgia, and what leaders can do to increase access to care and help struggling hospitals. Participants included two rural doctors, an epidemiologist, and the Minority Leader in the Georgia House of Representatives. They condemned the governor’s lifting of social distancing restrictions and called for the expansion of Medicaid in the state. View the press conference here.

  • Capitol Beat: End nears for Georgia shelter-in-place order, extension undecided [4/29/20]
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Kemp poised to lift restrictions, despite warnings of renewed outbreak [4/29/20]
  • Valdosta Daily Times: Rural doctors worry about lifting social distancing [4/29/20]
  • Georgia Recorder: Dem state lawmaker urges Kemp to expand Medicaid to fight COVID-19 [4/30/20]
  • Athens Banner-Herald: End nears for Georgia shelter-in-place order; extension undecided [4/29/20]
  • The Daily Tribune News: End nears for Georgia shelter-in-place order, extension undecided [4/29/20]

IOWA
Friday, April 10th – Press Call with State Sen. Claire Celsi
Progress Iowa and Protect Our Care Iowa were joined by Iowa Senator Claire Celsi, Denise Rathman, the Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers Iowa Chapter, and Mary Horsman, a respiratory therapist from Des Moines, on a press call to discuss the critical role Medicaid is playing in Iowa’s response to COVID-19 and Gov. Kim Reynold’s failures to secure Iowa in the face of crisis. You can listen to a full recording of the call here.

Thursday, April 23rd – Rural Health Care Zoom Roundtable
Progress Iowa and Protect Our Care were joined by former Lt. Governor Patty Judge, Iowa Senator Pam Jochum, Iowa Representative Timi Brown-Powers, and Dr. Rossana Rosa at a virtual town hall to discuss how communities in rural Iowa are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, and how the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid is keeping Iowans safe and healthy, and providing rural hospitals with the resources needed to fight the spread of the virus, despite ongoing attacks from Gov. Reynolds, Senators Ernst and Grassley, and President Trump. You can watch a full recording of the call here.

MICHIGAN
Saturday, April 25th – Op-Ed by Local Health Care Official
Protect Our Care Michigan worked with Janet Olszewski, former director of the Michigan Department of Community Health, to place an op-ed in Bridge Michigan on the importance of protecting Medicaid. “As Michigan and the rest of the United States grapples with the spread of COVID-19, it is more important than ever that every American has access to quality, affordable health care. Medicaid is a lifeline for people with limited resources providing 2.5 million Michigan residents access to life-saving health care.”

  • Bridge Michigan: During this coronavirus crisis, Medicaid must be protected [4/25/20]

MINNESOTA
Thursday, April 16th – Medicaid Awareness Press Call with State Sen. Matt Klein, State Rep. Alice Mann, and State Rep. Kelly Morrison
Protect Our Care Minnesota was joined by State Sen. Matt Klein, DFL-Mendota Heights, state Rep. Alice Mann, DFL-Lakeville, and state Rep. Kelly Morrison, DFL-Deephaven on a press call to discuss the legislators’ firsthand experiences providing health care during a pandemic. As state legislators and physicians, participants explained how misinformation puts Minnesotans and millions of Americans in danger, and urged the Trump administration to prioritize access to health care amid the COVID-19 pandemic. You can listen to the call audio here.

MONTANA
Friday, April 24th – Rural Health Care Townhall
Protect Our Care Montana hosted a press call with State Senator Jenn Gross and State Representative Barbara Bessette to discuss the latest report on the state of rural health care in Montana. You can listen to a recording of the press call here.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Thursday, April 23rd – Tele-Town Hall with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
More than 35 advocates and citizens joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Protect Our Care New Hampshire in a tele-town hall to highlight the vital importance of Medicaid and the ACA, especially as the state responds to the coronavirus pandemic. A New Hampshire resident shared her own story about the importance of Medicaid for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and advocacy groups such as Granite State Progress Education Fund, Covering New Hampshire, Bi-State Primary Care Association, Kent Street Coalition, Able NH, and the New Hampshire Medical Society asked the Senator questions. Listen to the call here.

  • Nashua Telegraph: Sen. Shaheen emphasizes importance of ACA [4/24/20]

Tuesday, April 28th – Roundtable with Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01)
Protect Our Care New Hampshire was joined by Rep. Chris Pappas on a video roundtable to discuss how communities in rural New Hampshire are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, as well as how Medicaid is keeping Granite Staters healthy while also providing rural hospitals with the resources needed to fight the spread of the virus. Joining Congressman Pappas at the roundtable were more than 20 people, including representatives from Granite State Progress, Laconia Housing, Bi-State Primary Health Care, Kent Street Coalition, Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, and New Futures. Watch the roundtable here.

  • Nashua Telegraph: Pappas: We need adequate federal response on testing, rural health care [4/29/20]

NEVADA
Thursday, April 9th – Zoom Roundtable with Congresswoman Dina Tutus (NV-01)
Protect Our Care Nevada hosted a Medicaid Zoom Roundtable with cancer survivor and Medicaid recipient, Make it Work Nevada, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), State Assemblywoman Michelle Gorelow, and Congresswoman Dina Titus. Speakers discussed the importance of Medicaid for Nevadans, ways to improve the program, the role that Medicaid expansion has played in getting more people access to care, and President Trump’s continued threats to destroy Medicaid. You can watch a full recording of the round table discussion here

NORTH CAROLINA
Wednesday, April 8th — Press Call with Congressman G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) and NC Justice Center
Protect Our Care North Carolina was joined by Congressman G.K. Butterfield and William Munn, of the North Carolina Justice Center on a press call to discuss how North Carolina’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is undermining the response to COVID-19. Speakers urged Republican lawmakers in North Carolina to move to expand Medicaid in response to the public health emergency, and explained how expansion would support not only North Carolinians, but also the state’s hospitals, which are struggling to operate with limited resources. You can listen to the call audio here.

Tuesday, April 28th – Medicaid Expansion Advocacy Day Press Call with North Carolina Justice Center
Protect Our Care North Carolina joined Health Action NC, a statewide coalition of organizations dedicated to the fight for expanding Medicaid on a press call to kickoff the first annual Digital Medicaid Expansion Advocacy Day. On the call, Rep. Verla Insko; Joe Weissfield, Director of Medicaid Initiatives of Families USA; Dr. William Munn of the NC Justice Center; and Penelope Wingard, a North Carolina resident who is in our state’s coverage gap, explained how North Carolina Republican’s refusal to expand Medicaid has left more than half a million North Carolinians without access to health care. Speakers urged Republican legislators to set politics aside, and prioritize access to health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can listen to the call audio here.