The following is from the Healthy Washington Coalition:
SEATTLE (Mar. 15, 2013) — More than tourists flocked to Pike Place Market on Thursday. Dozens of everyday Washingtonians rallied outside the Pike Market Medical Clinic calling for full implementation of Medicaid expansion.
“Cover Me!” they chanted, as nearly 100 umbrellas printed with “Cover Me” opened in unison creating a display that rivaled the floral bouquets in the market.
“Just because I work in the service industry doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have health insurance,” said Cassie Cotham, 27, of Seattle, a volunteer with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. She delayed seeking medical care because she was uninsured, but two years ago she became so ill she could no longer work. Cotham was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. “Medicaid expansion would allow people like me to seek necessary medical care and not worry about balancing bills with going to the doctor.”
Cotham isn’t alone. More than 261,000 low-income Washington residents would be covered under Medicaid expansion, if the Legislature acts this session. The expansion would use federal dollars to expand coverage to thousands of people, would save $225 million dollars and add 10,000 jobs statewide.
“Too often we see people desperately ill in the emergency rooms of our hospitals because they’ve postponed seeking treatment due to a lack of insurance coverage,” said Susan Tekola, a nurse with SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. “We support Medicaid expansion because it makes sense to provide quality coverage for all Washington residents allowing them to enjoy more healthy, productive lives.”
People at the rally wrote messages on two umbrellas which will be delivered to Washington House Speaker Frank Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom urging the Legislature to act swiftly.
“We hope our political leaders hear the message that Washington’s bounty should include not just salmon, great coffee and wonderful produce,” said Lynne Treat, of Chehalis. She’s a volunteer with AARP of Washington. She spoke Thursday about the need for people between ages 50 to 64 to have coverage. “All Washingtonians deserve quality health care.”
A recent Elway poll found that two-thirds of state residents support Medicaid expansion. Studies show that people without health insurance have a greater risk of prolonged illnesses, disability and death.
The rally was organized by the Healthy Washington Coalition, the largest health care reform organization that has existed in Washington State in recent history. It is made up of more than 70 community organizations, labor unions, faith based groups, and provider associations. The HWC stands united in calling for affordable, accessible, comprehensive and equitable care for all Washingtonians.