Senator Reverend Warnock Testifies Before Senate Finance Committee, Highlights How Closing the Medicaid Gap Would Strengthen Health Equity

As lawmakers finalize the Build Back Better Act, Senator Reverend Warnock testified in front of the Senate Finance Committee, urging his colleagues to include provisions to close the Medicaid coverage gap
An estimated 2.2 million individuals in the coverage gap, including 275,000 Georgians, have incomes too low to qualify for premium tax credits and too high to qualify for Medicaid because their states have not adopted Medicaid expansion
Expanding Medicaid would ensure all Americans – regardless of income or zip code – have access to health coverage and would bolster health equity, save lives, and create jobs
ICYMI: Senator Reverend Warnock in USA Today: “Congress should fund health care coverage for poor in states that won’t expand Medicaid”
Senator Reverend Warnock: “I believe that health care is a human right and in America it ought to look that way in every single state”

***WATCH HERE for full statement***

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) testified in front of the Senate Finance Committee to urge his colleagues to prioritize efforts to close the Medicaid coverage gap. Senator Warnock – a longtime advocate of expanding Medicaid for working people – reminded his colleagues of the human toll of Congress’ public policy decisions. During his testimony he highlighted the story of a Georgia woman, Lorie, who died due to her lack of access to Medicaid. Lorie was one of the more than 4 million Americans who would be eligible for Medicaid if she lived in one of the 38 Medicaid expansion states.

As lawmakers put the final touches on the Build Back Better Act, Senator Warnock has pushed aggressively to include provisions of his Medicaid Saves Lives Act into the final bill, which would close the Medicaid coverage gap in non-expansion states by increasing access to affordable and comprehensive health care coverage.

Key Quotes from Senator Reverend Warnock, below:

“In my home state of Georgia, there are 275,000 Georgians in the coverage gap – this is an equity issue – 47% of whom are Black, 9% of are Latino, and 63% are working families.”

“There are still 500,000 Georgians who are uninsured and 646,000 Georgians who would qualify for free and affordable health coverage if Georgia joined the 38 other states, and the District of Columbia, in expanding Medicaid.”

“Every day that we delay is another day that the least among us continue to suffer. As we debate whether and how to expand health care coverage here in the Senate, lives are literally caught in the cross hairs.”

“We need to remember the faces of those who are affected by the policies we choose to create and not create. The human costs of the policy work we do here in the Senate. There are real consequences for real people when we fail to do what we were sent here to do.”

“It seems to me that as members of this body, we should be ashamed that in the richest nation in the world, in a country with some of the best health care coverage in the world, some citizens would choose not to seek treatment because they fear they cannot AFFORD it – the price tag of life-saving care.”

“Lorie’s story would’ve been different, could have had a different ending if she lived in Oregon, if she lived in Idaho, or most of the other states represented here. Can you imagine Medicare in 38 states? Can you imagine Social Security in 38 states? Conventional Medicaid in 38 states? We can’t imagine it because it’s the law of the land. Well, 11 years later the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land.”

“This is about the very basic fact that in the United States of America, access to quality, affordable health care should not depend on where you live. And we should not allow state politicians to undermine that basic principle. Americans are literally dying for lack of health care coverage.”

“I’m not asking for additional benefits for Georgia or better coverage for those in Georgia or those in the 11 other non-expansion states – I am asking for basic fairness and equity. I am asking especially that we give the working poor – because largely that’s who we are talking about in the coverage gap – give the working poor a chance. I am asking that every American everywhere, in every state, in every zip code have the same opportunities and the same right to live.”

“Dr. King said, that of all the injustices, inequality in health care is the most shocking and most inhumane. I believe that health care is a human right and in America it ought to look that way in every single state.”