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Virginia Organizing and VICPP Hold Eleven Media Conferences to Call for Medicaid Expansion

For Immediate Release: November 29, 2017

What: Eleven Media Conferences around Virginia calling for legislators to expand Medicaid, presented by Virginia Organizing and the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy

When: All media conferences on Friday, December 1, except for Christiansburg on December 5, and Pennington Gap on December 8 (details at the end of this advisory)

Where: Charlottesville, Christiansburg, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Martinsville, Pennington Gap, Richmond, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Winchester


Richmond, Va. — Virginia Organizing and the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICPP) will hold 11 media conferences around the state on Dec. 1, 5, and 8 to call on the General Assembly to expand Medicaid.

The partnering organizations will be releasing the updated Medicaid chartbook prepared by The Commonwealth Institute (TCI), and the focus will be on the expansion of health care coverage in Virginia. The title of the chartbook is “Understanding Virginia’s Medicaid Insurance and the Opportunity to Improve It.”

“They should make Medicaid expansion their highest priority in the first session of 2018,” said Del McWhorter, Virginia Organizing’s chairperson. “People at the grassroots believe in Medicaid expansion. It was one of the most important issues in the last election. 300,000 of our fellow Virginians are without health care because the General Assembly did not expand Medicaid before. We want people to get the health care they need! We’re tired of seeing our state pass up getting our federal tax dollars by not bringing this health care funding back to the people.”

“All our faith traditions believe we should care for our vulnerable sisters and brothers,” said Kim Bobo, the Executive Director of the Virginia Interfaith Center. “Nothing we could do in Virginia is more important for helping low-income families than expanding health care access to the 300,000 people who would benefit if Virginia tapped federal Medicaid dollars.”

“My son is only 35, and he was working full time when he got sick,” said Denise Smith of Rocky Gap. “He has Spondyloarthropathy, a really aggressive autoimmune disorder. When it was diagnosed, he didn’t have health insurance and he became so sick he had to quit his job. Because Virginia didn’t expand Medicaid when it could have, he didn’t get the care he needed right away. We couldn’t afford it. One MRI costs $1,200. Each of the shots that prevents the disease from progressing costs $1,800. The disease damaged his joints and made him blind in one eye. Now he’s on disability, and he finally has Medicaid, but it took more than a year for us to get his treatment started. If he had been able to get it right away, he might have been able to go back to work by now. He wouldn’t have suffered all this damage from it. It’s just dumb not to expand health care when we can.”

“I would not be blind if Medicaid had been expanded,” said Eunice Haigler of Fredericksburg. “I have limited sight in my right eye and none in my left. I couldn’t get medical attention because I didn’t have health insurance.”

To interview a spokesperson about this event, contact Rosemary Gould at 434-962-7261 or rosemary@virginia-organizing.org, or Neill Caldwell, Virginia Interfaith Center (804) 643-2474, x101.

Details of each location with contacts:

1. Charlottesville: Friday, 12/1 at 12 p.m. at Virginia Organizing Office (703 Concord Ave);

Contact: Joe Szakos (szakos@virginia-organizing.org)

2. Christiansburg: Tuesday, December 5, Location TBD;

Contact: Andrae Hash (ahash@virginia-organizing.org)

3. Falls Church: Friday 12/1 at 10 a.m. at Culmore Clinic at Columbia @ Crossroads Baptist Church (3245 Glen Carlyn Road, Falls Church, VA 22041);

Contact: Terry Lavoie (toh.lavoie@gmail.com)

4. Fredericksburg: Friday 12/1 at 12:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (25 Chalice Circle);

Contact: Rabib Hasan (rabib@virginia-organizing.org)

5. Harrisonburg: Friday 12/1 at 11 a.m. in front of the office of Del. Tony Wilt at 420 Ness Ave;

Contact: Isabel Castillo (isabel@virginia-organizing.org)

6. Pennington Gap: Friday, December 8, at 10 a.m. at St. Charles Clinic (602 W. Morgan Ave Ste 3);

Contact: Robert Kell (robert@virginia-organizing.org)

7. Martinsville: Friday 12/1 at 12 p.m. at First United Methodist Church’s Uptown Ministry Center (145 E. Main St.);

Contact: Nik Belanger (nik.belanger@virginia-organizing.org)

8. Richmond: Friday 12/1 at 10 a.m. in front of the State Capitol, Bank Street.

Contact, Kim Bobo, (kim@virginiainterfaithcenter.org)

9. Virginia Beach: Friday 12/1 at 10 a.m. in front of the office of Del. Chris Stolle at 4620 Haygood Road, Virginia Beach

Contact: Tuere Brown (tbrown@virginia-organizing.org)

10. Williamsburg: Friday 12/1 at 12 p.m., Williamsburg Baptist Church (227 Richmond Road); Contacts: Rev. Charles Swadley, 804-502-3392 (Charles.swadley@gmail.com); Dr. John Whitley, 757-645-5028 (proflearncom@gmail.com

11. Winchester: Friday 12/1 at 1:30 p.m., All Faiths Chapel at Winchester Medical Center (1840 Amherst Street);

Contact: Rev. John Copenhaver, 540-327-6771 (jcopenha@su.edu)

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