Category Archives: Blog

Legislative Advocacy 101: Becky Bowers-Lanier + VA Del. Manoli Loupassi

Legislative advocacy consultant Becky Bowers-Lanier, who helps VCV work on legislative issues important to the individuals and organizations who support our work, gave us the 411 on how effective legislative advocacy works. She shares details on:

  • What an advocacy consultant does
  • How bills get introduced
  • Who are legislators are (they’re citizens, just like us)
  • What’s the deal with the budget?
  • How does a bill become law?
  • How can I follow a bill?

On the receiving (legislative) end, we talked to Virginia Del. Manoli Loupassi about the mechanics of legislation and constituent advocacy. He gave us insights on: 

  • How committees work
  • How constituents can bring an issue to a legislator  
  • Advocacy etiquette 101

Click here for Virginia’s General Assembly website.

Click here for the Virginia Legislative Information System website.

Medicaid expansion explained best through irony

From – we couldn’t improve on this, so here it is in its entirety [note: video is from HBO, so NSFW for language]:

John Oliver wants you to know how important state elections are, even if you don’t live in one of the states set to hold gubernatorial and legislature elections this week.

“There are American lives at stake here,” he said on his late-night show on Sunday. “A number of these elections could determine whether hundreds of thousands of people remain in or even fall into what’s known as the Medicaid gap.”

Under Obamacare, the federal government was supposed to subsidize health insurance for people above 138 percent of the poverty level. Anyone below that was supposed to be eligible for Medicaid. If that required states to expand Medicaid, the federal government would pay for it: The first few years, the federal government would cover the entire cost of the expansion. Over time, the federal government’s payments would be phased down to 90 percent of the cost, where it would remain. (To get a sense of how good of a deal that is, the federal government typically paid for about 57 percent of a state’s entire Medicaid program before Obamacare.)

At first, the Medicaid expansion was essentially mandatory under Obamacare. But in 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government was acting in a coercive manner, and the expansion was made voluntary, so states could decide for themselves if they wanted to expand the program.

Many states — notably Texas and Florida — have so far opted not to. These states don’t pay for Medicaid for individual adults unless that person is below 44 percent of the federal poverty level. That means individual adults in these states living between 44 percent and 100 percent of the federal poverty level can get less of a subsidy on his or her health insurance than someone living above poverty and eligible for subsidies from Obamacare’s insurance marketplaces.

The Medicaid coverage gap.
Kaiser Family Foundation

“Twenty states have so far declined to expand Medicaid, leaving over 3 million people in the Medicaid gap — people in the illogical situation of not making enough money to receive government assistance,” Oliver said, referencing a Kaiser Family Foundation report.

This year, two state elections could help decide the fate of the Medicaid program. In Virginia, the state legislature, which is the main hurdle toward expanding Medicaid, is being voted on. And in Kentucky, Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin earliervowed to undo the state’s existing expansion if he wins.

These kinds of state decisions are why Tuesday’s election and others like it seriously matter, even if they don’t get as much attention from the media as a whole. “So on Tuesday, even if you don’t live in a state holding an election, spare a thought for the people who do,” Oliver said, “because the results may ultimately affect the health of half a million people.”

The ACA, closing the gap, and selfies!

voter selfies image

October has brought some powerful headlines about the Affordable Care Act. A survey conducted by Community Catalyst and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) served up the news that a majority of likely Virginia voters believe that the ACA is here to stay, and want Congress to work on improving it, not on trying to repeal it. And 74% of those likely Virginia voters want the state to expand Medicaid. What do selfies have to do with this? Keep reading to find out.

Here’s what we think is a valid question: are Virginia’s elected representatives listening to the people they represent? Virginians have a chance to raise their voices on November 3 at their polling places, with General Assembly and Senate seats on the ballot across the state. Whatever your political affiliation or opinion is, unless you express that opinion at the polls, your voice is silenced. 

Take the time to assess the positions of the candidates on your ballot, and vote your voice. Hit up Vote411, the League of Women Voters’ resource tool, to see if your candidates have shared their positions via the League’s candidate surveys. Take a look at the candidates’ own web pages, attend a debate, call their campaign offices to ask where candidates stand on the issues that matter to you.

Our mission is to make sure that every Virginian has access to quality, affordable healthcare. We’ve been working on that with our colleagues at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, as well as The Commonwealth Institute, Community Catalyst, Healthcare for All Virginians, VirginiaOrganizing, and others to make it a reality. What’s needed now is action to close the gap for our friends and neighbors, the working poor in particular, who fall into the gap left by Virginia’s continued resistance to expanding Medicaid.

OK, so what about the selfies?

To get some community engagement going across the state, we’re running a selfies contest to encourage voters to sport their “I Voted” sticker, and their conviction that the ACA is here to stay. Here’s how to participate on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram:

  • Vote!
  • Get your “I Voted” sticker
  • Take a selfie with your sticker prominently displayed
  • Use the hashtag #ACAisheretostay or #closethegap
  • Tag Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare when you post your selfies on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram (click links for VCV profiles on each social platform)
  • We’ll draw six (6) winners on Wednesday, Nov. 4. The first drawn will get a $50 Amazon gift card, and the next five will each get a $10 Amazon gift card.

triptych image

Let’s get to work – start by voting, and posting your selfies!

Healthcare as moral imperative: expanding the message

Update: Newport News event originally scheduled for Oct. 22 will be held at a later date – stay tuned for updates!

Norfolk event

Norfolk event

Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare and our parent organization, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, are hosting two community conversations about healthcare as a moral imperative during October. The purpose of both events is to create a call to action to promote change for the nearly 400,000 Virginians across the state who are unable to access affordable health insurance, while their neighbors across the border in Kentucky, Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, DC can. 

A successful event we held in Richmond in late June tells us that this is a topic of deep interest to people throughout the Commonwealth. In a letter to the editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch after the Richmond event, Rev. Charles Swadley and Rabbi Gary Creditor, members of the VICPP leadership team, noted this about the ongoing discussion of the moral imperative of healthcare access:

“the VICPP is a place where shared values motivated by being faith-filled people, despite diversities of theology, unite us, and should not be politically labeled. We bring these values to the public forum in conversation for what is right or wrong in regard to the treatment of our neighbor.

In Hampton Roads, we’re partnering up with Virginia Organizing, Celebrate Healthcare, Empower Hampton Roads and Virginia Wesleyan College for an event on October 8th at Virginia Wesleyan University-Blocker Hall at 6:00pm

In Roanoke, we’ve teamed up with New River Valley Chapter of VICPP, Virginia Organizing in Blacksburg, and the NRV NAACP  for an event on October 28th at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation Meeting House at 6:00pm. 

New River Valley event

New River Valley event

All of the events will feature a screening of a short documentary about Remote Area Medical‘s efforts to provide care for the uninsured poor in southwest Virginia, followed by stories from local residents impacted by the health insurance coverage gap. A panel discussion with representatives from the Catholic, Jewish, Muslim & Protestant faith traditions, and an opportunity for questions and a call to action, will conclude each evening.

Register for the Norfolk event by clicking this link, and for the New River Valley event by clicking this link. We hope to see you at one of these events, and that you will join our statewide call to action that quality, affordable healthcare access for all Virginians is a moral imperative.

Join VCV at the 13th Happily Natural Day in Richmond

Happily Natural Day banner image


Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare and our parent organization the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy will be exhibitors at the 13th Happily Natural Day at Plant Zero in Richmond’s Manchester district on Saturday, August 30, 2015. 

Happily Natural Day is a lifestyle festival dedicated to holistic health, cultural awareness and social change held annually in Richmond, . Every summer the festival provides patrons with a fusion of educational workshops, music and merchandise targeting individuals with socially conscious and ecological responsible world-views.

Click here for tickets – we hope to see you there!