|The "Texas Left Me Out" campaign is a joint effort by several grassroots Texas organizations--Texas Well and Healthy, Texas Impact, ConsumersUnion, Progress Texas, and the Texas Organizing Project. Its goal in telling Texans' stories is twofold--first, to lobby lawmakers to accept federal Medicaid funding, and second, to turn the issue into a rallying point for the 2014 election.
Why Texas? Because Texas has the largest number of people in the so-called "Medicaid gap": one million Texans will be left uninsured because the state is refusing to expand Medicaid.
Organizers want to turn that number from a statistic into stories that will stick with people. As Tiffany Hogue of the Texas Organizing Project told Talking Points Memo, "When you personalize a policy, when you make it real, it's always much more powerful. It's always going to resonate."
The "Texas Left Me Out" project wants to spread stories like Irma Aguilar's, a San Antonio mother of 4 who was shocked to find out that her income as a Pizza Hut assistant manager was too high for Medicaid, but too low for insurance marketplace subsidies. Aguilar questioned the motives of Texas politicians, asking, "What about us back here? It's really hard. I thought with this law, they would try to work to help everybody, but apparently not. They just think of themselves. They've just let us struggle."
Right now, organizers are still collecting stories from people like Aguilar, who have been left out of Medicaid expansion. They are also collecting signatures from Texans who are either in the coverage gap, or standing in solidarity with them. The group is making solid progress. Since the site's soft launch in October, they've reached out to 100,000 people and recruited 20,000 of them to participate in the campaign.
The campaign will officially roll out in January, and after that its scope will get bigger. Organizers are hoping to turn Medicaid expansion into an issue in the 2014 election, and support candidates who favor expanding Medicaid. Wendy Davis has come out in support of expansion, and it would be much easier to approve Medcaid expansion with a more Democratic state legislature.
After the election, "Texas Left Me Out" has its eyes set on a lobbying campaign for the 2015 legislative session. As Talking Points Memo explained, "The strategy is simple: sheer political force. They'll ask people to turn up at legislative committee hearings and stage protests at the state capitol. Conference calls and press conferences will be the norm."
Organizers at "Texas Left Me Out" recognize that they've got a tough task ahead. But as the Stand with Texas Women movement proved earlier this year, Texans are ready to stand up for their rights, and can be mobilized into a grassroots movement that will truly make a difference. "Texas Left Me Out" hopes to create that same kind of momentum for another group of Texans whose health is at risk because Republicans chose to put politics ahead of people.
If you're one of the million Texans being left out of Medicaid expansion, you can share your story with the "Texas Left Me Out" campaign here. (If you're unsure of whether you're in the Medicaid gap, they've got a set of resources to help you find out). And whether you're in the coverage gap or not, you can check out the "Texas Left Me Out" site to learn more and get involved in the fight to bring Medicaid to low-income Texans.