Texans Joins NC to DC Walk to Demand Health Care Action

For Immediate Release

Contact: Peter Clark, pclark@txchildren.org, 512-417-9262

May 29, 2015

Texans Joins NC to DC Walk to Demand Health Care Action

Grace

Grace Chimene Advocating at the Texas Capitol

Austin – Starting next week, six Texans will join supporters from 10 other states on a walk from North Carolina to Washington, DC to call for action to protect access to health care. The Walk, organized by conservative GOP Mayor Adam O’Neal of Belhaven, NC and civil rights leader Bob Zellner, will highlight the plight of rural hospitals and the need for Texas and other states to accept Medicaid expansion funding from the federal government.

“We’re happy to endure a few blisters if it means more Texans can get the treatment they need for cancer, diabetes, and depression” said Dr. Laura Guerra-Cardus, one of the Texas participants in The Walk. “We want our state leaders to understand the importance of accepting the health care dollars offered by the federal government to keep our hospitals open and connect uninsured workers with health coverage.”

The following Texans will participate in portions of the 283-mile walk, which will begin in Belhaven, North Carolina on June 1 and conclude on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on June 15:

  • Grace Chimene of Austin is a Nurse Practitioner and volunteer with the League of Women Voters.
  • Beverly Chimene of Austin is amedical student and the daughter of Grace Chimene.
  • Laura Guerra-Cardus, M.D. of Austin, is Associate Director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Texas and lead coordinator for the Texas Well and Healthy health coverage campaign.
  • Marlene Guerrero Chavez of Weslaco, is the Colonias Policy Analyst/Educator for Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, providing community education and outreach in Starr, Willacy, Cameron, and Hidalgo Counties.
  • Lauren Jackson of Shelby County, where a little girl choked on a grape and died after her family found the local hospital shut down, works at The HOPE Project health care clinic and is a former EMT.
  • Winston Bailey of Shelby County, is the brother of Lauren Jackson.

The participants are available to speak to the media and will post regular updates on the texaswellandhealthy.tumblr.com blog and on Twitter at @TXWellHealthy. Additional information about the walk is available at thewalknctodc.com.

Background:

There is a growing wave of rural hospital closures across the country, with ten hospitals in rural Texas closing at least temporarily over the last two years, each one with its own story. The Houston-area safety net hospital district also cut services, laid off 113 employees, and eliminated 121 other positions, citing the state’s decision not to accept Medicaid expansion funds as a key factor in the layoffs. State leaders have not accepted federal Medicaid funding for low-wage adults intended to balance phased-down federal funding for care for the uninsured and other cost-control measures. As a result, Texas hospitals never got those new paying patients.

Approximately one million uninsured low-wage Texas adults, including child care workers, construction workers, cooks, and others, would receive health coverage if Texas leaders accepted the new federal funding. By accepting the federal health care funding and reducing the number of uninsured patients in our hospitals, state leaders could take a significant step forward in protecting patients and hospitals in rural areas and throughout the state.

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