WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn joined a group of lawmakers from the U.S. Senate and U.S. House to urge the closure of the Medicaid coverage gap in the forthcoming Build Back Better Act.
***Watch news conference HERE**
"The group, including Senators Raphael Warnock, Jon Ossoff, Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren and Representative Carolyn Bourdeaux, called for the final package to include comprehensive, stable health care for the millions of uninsured low-income Americans—including hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians—who should qualify for Medicaid but live in the 12 states that have refused to expand the program under the Affordable Care Act."
“This is not just about saving lives, this is about enhancing the quality of life,” said House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn. “And it’s one thing for us to guarantee dental care, vision care, for those of us above the age of 65. It’s something else to say to a family that has the income below the poverty level, who aspires to the middle class, that if they get a toothache or if you need vision care, because your state did not expand Medicaid, it’s not available to you. That is what we are allowing in 12 states that have decided to not expand Medicaid. That is not who we are. ‘We,’ as my late colleague Rep. Elijah Cummings would say, ‘are better than that.’ And it’s time for us to demonstrate that we are better.”
“I believe that health care is a human right--and if you believe it’s a human right, you don’t believe it’s a human right in just 38 states. No one should be denied healthcare in America because of where they live,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “Now I know there are a number of priorities being discussed in this package, all focused on healthcare—but whatever we do, we must expand Medicaid. People are literally dying. Especially the working poor. Because they have no access to healthcare at all. That is unconscionable and unacceptable in the United States of America.”
“I join these esteemed colleagues to urge our fellow members of Congress to heed the will of the people. To listen to the voices in Georgia who elected me and Senator Reverend Warnock to secure this Senate majority and to include Medicaid expansion in reconciliation to ensure that every American has access to the health care that they need. To end the needless suffering and death of America’s working poor, in states where politicians – out of contempt for low income people and vain partisanship refuse to do what’s right and sentence so many to needless suffering and death,” said Senator Jon Ossoff. “We have the chance now in Congress to change that. We have a moral imperative to expand Medicaid.”
“I teamed up with my colleagues from Georgia so that we could open the door to those who’ve been shut out and expand access to affordable healthcare – including preventative care – that people want and desperately need,” said Senator Tammy Baldwin. “Waiting for Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature and the 11 other states that have refused to do the right thing is no longer a viable option. Our Build Back Better budget is the best opportunity we have to make a federal investment to expand access to quality healthcare coverage for working families. By closing the coverage gap, studies show we would save an estimated 7,000 lives each year and could reduce $2 billion in medical debt. Health insurance isn’t just about coverage, it can improve so many different aspects of a person’s life. Right now, we have the opportunity to get it right. Guided by our belief that healthcare should be a guaranteed right in America.”
“In America, access to a doctor or a hospital should not depend on where you live. Getting cancer treatments or insulin to manage diabetes, should not depend on where you live. Avoiding bankruptcy over bills from a broken leg should not depend on where you live. And yet, here in America, the richest country in the history of the world, care that is routinely available in 38 states is out of reach for millions of people solely because they live in one of the other 12 states,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “People who are caught in the Medicaid coverage gap because their state stubbornly refuses the help offered by the ACA don’t get access to health care that millions of other Americans get. The Medicaid coverage gap has left low-income Americans – including those in rural communities and Black and brown communities – in the lurch.”
“Despite significant financial incentives provided by the Affordable Care Act and the American Rescue Plan, Georgia and the 11 other non-expansion states have still refused to act,” said Representative Carolyn Bourdeaux. “Expanding Medicaid has the potential to provide healthcare coverage for 4 million Americans and that includes 646,000 Georgians. We must change the notion that the state you live in affects your access to affordable healthcare. The choice in Georgia – not to expand Medicaid – has a very real human cost.”
According to a new Center for American Progress report, closing the Medicaid gap would save 7,000 lives annually and $2 billion in medical debt and lead to fewer evictions.