On Thursday, in a moving speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) urged Congress to pass the Medicaid Saves Lives Act, historic legislation he introduced in June that would create a federal program to extend coverage to millions of people stuck in the coverage gap in states like Georgia, which have refused traditional Medicaid expansion.
During his speech, Senator Warnock shared the story of Lorie Davis, a former trauma nurse at Grady Memorial hospital in Atlanta, who was diagnosed with pelvic adhesive disease. Lorie’s condition left her with intense chronic pain, and after leaving the nursing profession, Lorie struggled to maintain steady employment in the restaurant industry and could not afford health insurance.
Even with a disability, Lorie was unable to qualify for Medicaid coverage in Georgia because her marital combined income was too high and Lorie went without health insurance, relying on her medical training and free health care clinics to treat her chronic disease.
Lorie feared the high costs associated with visiting doctors to manage her health conditions, and delayed seeking care as long as she could. During his speech, Senator Warnock urged his colleagues to reflect on Lorie’s experience as a former health care professional, “unable to follow the advice she had no doubt given others.”
“As members of this body, we should be ashamed that in the richest nation in the world — a country with all of our resources and medical technology — that some citizens would choose not to seek treatment, even when they know better, because they fear they cannot afford the price tag of lifesaving care,” the Senator said.
In September 2020, Lorie was admitted to the hospital and learned she had lung cancer, which would have been treatable if she was diagnosed earlier. Lorie passed away on September 17, 2020 after a short battle with pneumonia.
“These are the tragic casualties of the games that politicians play,” said Senator Warnock, pointing to a photo of Lorie and her husband. “As a Senator who believes that health care is a human right, and a sacred obligation, I refuse to stop fighting until Georgians like Lorie Davis have access to the care they need when they need it.”
Senator Warnock pledged to continue sharing stories like Lorie’s until the Medicaid Saves Lives Act is passed and people in Georgia and across the country have access to care.
An estimated four million uninsured adults could gain coverage if the remaining holdout states adopted expansion. In Georgia, 275,000 adults in the coverage gap would be eligible for coverage through Medicaid expansion.
Despite robust incentives included in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, 12 states — including Georgia —have refused to expand Medicaid, underscoring the need for a federal solution. The Medicaid Saves Live Act is that solution.
You can watch the Senator’s floor speech here, and learn more about how the Medicaid program can save lives and improve health outcomes in Georgia by reading this new report from Protect Our Care.
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