Candle light vigils to be held for Medicaid expansion

The Nonviolent Medicaid Army, joined by The Alabama Poor People’s Campaign, will hold simultaneous candlelight vigils for Medicaid expansion at various churches in five major cities in Alabama Monday night at 6:30 PM.

The cities are Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Gadsden, Montgomery and Mobile.

“We will demand that our elected officials do the right thing and expand Medicaid now,” said Rev. Kelley Hudlow, lead documentarian for the Alabama Committee of the Poor People’s Campaign, in a statement Friday. “Medicaid expansion would help more than 340,000 Alabamians get health coverage, stabilize our rural hospitals, and jump-start our economy – all for a dime on the dollar.”

On April 30, the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Chairman Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, told APR the Legislature was discussing the possibility of Medicaid expansion, but the answer lies in how the state would fund it, suggesting it would cost “close to $300 million.”

The same day, Family USA released a study suggesting an estimated 200,000 currently uninsured Alabamians would qualify for Medicaid if expanded by the state Legislature, with an additional 140,000 insured but struggling to pay for private coverage, also eligible for Medicaid.

“Medicaid expansion would help more than 340,000 Alabamians get health coverage, stabilize our rural hospitals, and jump-start our economy — all for a dime on the dollar,” Hudlow said. “In 2020, for the first time in state history, Alabama recorded more deaths than births. More than 12,000 Alabamians have died of COVID.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised the enrollment for Medicaid from 71 million people at the beginning of the pandemic, to 80 million currently enrolled. Alabama is among 12 other states yet to fully expand Medicaid.

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The candlelight vigils will be held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Birmingham, Brown Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa, Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Gadsden, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Montgomery, and All Saints Episcopal Church in Mobile, all at 6:30 p.m.




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