By Dana Lawrence, MPCA Director of Communications & Grassroots Advocacy
On Wednesday, MPCA asked advocates to contact their state legislators and House and Senate leadership to urge them to expand Medicaid. Thank you to everyone who sent emails and made calls. Since March 11, over 400 supporters have sent a total of 1,003 emails to 120 state legislators using MPCA’s action alert. Yesterday alone, advocates generated nearly 300 emails. While we can’t track the number of calls that were made, we did hear from a few legislative offices that they received calls from many supporters.
Where do things stand?
On Thursday, April 11 the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Community Health held hearings on the fiscal year 2014 state budget. While neither appropriated funding for Medicaid expansion, it is becoming increasingly apparent that failing to implement Governor Rick Snyder’s recommendation to accept federal support to extend Medicaid coverage may have serious consequences for the state budget. Without the savings that Medicaid expansion would generate in the budget, which totals $206 million (half of which Governor Snyder has recommended be put in a health savings fund), funding for many programs would need to be cut including some serving children and veterans, as well as programs aimed at improving mental health services.
[On a positive note, the Senate Appropriations Community Health Subcommittee budget bill restores funding for Graduate Medical Education to current levels, increases funding for the State Loan Repayment Program, and includes funding for expanding Healthy Kids Dental (but does not specify counties).]
The hearings held this week were just one more step in the budget process. The fiscal year 2014 state budget is far from complete, and final budget decisions are still weeks away. The House budget now goes to the full House for a vote, and the Senate budget goes to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for a vote. Fortunately there are still major points of difference between the House and Senate budgets, which means there is still opportunity for funding to be included to expand Medicaid.
What can you do?
It is extremely important to continue contacting your state legislators between now and when the budget is final (most likely by the end of June) to urge them to vote YES for Medicaid expansion. And there are other ways you can continue to increase awareness of the critical need for expansion:
- Share MPCA’s action alert (http://bit.ly/ZmBKWR) with others (via email, your organization’s website and social media sites) and ask them to contact their state legislators – it’s going to take a huge number of people sending the same strong, loud, consistent message to have an impact.
- Invite your state legislators to visit your Health Center to learn how Medicaid expansion will help many of their constituents and their community.
- Share fact sheets that explain who will be eligible under the expansion and its value and impact.
- Submit an opinion piece or letter to the editor of your local paper.
- Collect letters written by patients explaining why expansion is important for them and their families, and submit the letters to the patients’ state legislators.
- Pass a board resolution supporting Medicaid expansion and present it to your state legislators.
- Link to ExpandMedicaid.com on your website and sign up for a newsletter to stay up-to-date on what’s happening regarding expansion.
- Like the Expand Medicaid Facebook page and share posts on your/your organization’s Facebook page.
- Follow Expand Medicaid on Twitter and retweet messages. Every time you tweet about Medicaid Expansion use the #MedicaidMatters hashtag.
- Watch videos of real people talking about the importance of Medicaid expansion and share them on your organization’s website and social media sites – two of the videos feature Health Center a Health Center patient and a board member.