Wondering whether getting involved in the Our Children, Our Future campaign can really make a difference in the lives of West Virginians who need help? Take a look at the front page of today’s Charleston Gazette Mail.
“West Virginia’s Uninsured Cut by More Than Half” announces the headline. The behind-the-scenes story of how this came to be demonstrates the power that people and organizations can have when they get together with like-minded, passionate spirits.
In the past 3 years, the Our Children, Our Future coalition has taken the bold and ambitious policy ideas of West Virginians and helped them become actual laws.
In 2013, almost 1 in 5 West Virginians did not have health insurance, an astronomical rate that, unfortunately, had our state once again near the top of national rankings list we did not want to be on.
But there were people fighting for a solution.
Thousands of ordinary West Virginians were making their voices heard in favor of expanding Medicaid to working families. Led by Perry Bryant, the entire West Virginians for Affordable Health Care team, and with help from the Our Children, Our Future campaign, folks across the state spoke up.
Our network of advocates, volunteers and everyday citizens demanded the state’s media pay attention to the issue, they organized church meetings, and they collected more than 4,200 signatures on a petition to urge Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to sign on to Medicaid expansion and provide affordable health coverage for uninsured West Virginians.
This work was led by hardworking locals at organizations including American Friends Service Committee, WV Center on Budget and Policy, United Methodist Women, and WV Council of Churches.
Our Children, Our Future held 13 regional forums across the state that year, asking legislators to pledge their support for Medicaid Expansion. We launched a sign-on letter for Republicans and Democrats to show that support, and brought more than 400 kids and families to the Capitol to speak on behalf of the issue.
All that hard work and organizing paid off.
After the session, Our Children, Our Future organizers were contacted by a couple members of the Governor’s staff to give us the good news.
“We did it!,” they said, congratulating us on the thousands of signatures we brought to them and grassroots support we had generated.
And so, today, 165,712 more working West Virginians have health care. The uninsured rate in the state has been cut in half.
Two years ago, this seemed like a pipe dream.
Amazing what you can do though, isn’t it?
Are you ready to have a positive impact like this on your state and the people that call it home?