March for Medicaid advocates for system change

Published: Sep. 18, 2021 at 5:27 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2021 at 8:20 PM EDT
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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) - This weekend rounds up a week of action across the country calling for healthcare for all. We take you to Vermont’s final event in Barre, the March for Medicaid.

“She’s not covered in most places that cover dentistry for children, so we had to pay out of pocket to go to our dentist,” said Hannah Jeffery of White River Junction.

Jeffery and her daughter are on Medicaid, but she says accessibility is a problem. She says that’s why she’s advocating for healthcare for all and Medicaid expansion.

“We would have to travel over an hour I think to get a dentist that takes Medicaid,” said Jeffery.

The March for Medicaid is one event of many around the country this week orchestrated by the National Nonviolent Medicaid Army. It’s an organization fighting for a more inclusive system.

“As a mother I’ve been struggling to have healthcare coverage for my family, and having to choose between that or owning a home or having transportation to work,” said Ashley Andreas of the Vermont Worker’s Center.

“Put people first,” that’s a common saying heard this march, with the goal of bringing awareness to the system that affects more than just Medicaid, especially with the General Assistance Emergency Housing Program coming to a close.

“There’s no way that a person can be healthy or sometimes even access healthcare if they don’t have housing,” said Ellen Schwartz of the Vermont Worker’s Center.

Hundreds of Vermonters currently living in hotels and motels will be homeless come Thursday, and advocates at the march recognize the intersectionality of all these problems.

“The motel program was a lifesaver for many people in the pandemic, but the fact that during that time there wasn’t a movement to end homelessness altogether -- like that was a lot of time to figure stuff out,” said Schwartz.

In June, Vermont did pass a law making a historic investment to provide housing and increase shelter capacity, but those projects are still in the works.

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