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Moral Monday Protests
Mon December 23, 2013
Moral Monday Protestors Demand Medicaid Expansion
N.C. Moral Monday activists make a final push to gain Medicaid expansion.
Moral Monday activists are from around the state are heading to Raleigh. They want Governor Pat McCrory to convene a special session of the North Carolina legislature to reverse the state's refusal to expand Medicaid coverage. North Carolina has about 1.5 million uninsured residents, and about a half million would have qualified for Medicaid under a state expansion. The federal government says it will pay 100% of the cost for 3 years. Then scale back to 90% and states would cover the remaining 10%. But Governor McCrory and the Republican legislature don’t have confidence the federal government will be able to afford this since it’s struggling with a budget deficit that exceeds $1 trillion. They also doubt if North Carolina can afford the health care cost of an additional half-million people.
Reverend Nelson Johnson is the executive director of the Beloved Community Center in Greensboro. He says the state has a greater responsibility to its residents. “It is the poor and elderly and the least among us who we need to pay attention to," says Rev. Johnson. He's also been a vocal Moral Monday organizer since the movement began April 29. "When we stand for moral principles, ultimately we’re standing for the best for everyone.”
Although, a federal regulation may force the state to expand Medicaid coverage. In October, the Charlotte Observer reported if hospitals determine uninsured patients qualify for Medicaid then they can bill the state for the care of those patients for up to two months until a final determination is made.
This evening, Moral Monday protestors will gather near the state capitol in Raleigh. They will hold lit candles as a symbol of the light of justice. Rev. Johnson calls this movement a success. “Many Republicans are rejecting this extremist legislation and standing on a more moral ground," explains Johnson. "This is not about democrats or republicans. It’s about right and wrong, justice and injustice.”
Since the first Moral Monday event, Rev. Johnson estimates hundreds of thousands of people across the state have protested in Raleigh and in their communities. He also says the Moral Monday movement will continue in 2014.