Dear VICPP Supporter,
Medicaid expansion is back on the table. Getting Virginia to develop a plan to draw down federal Medicaid dollars will still be hard, but possible, with our engagement. Nothing we could do in Virginia is more important for helping low-income families than expanding healthcare access to the 300,000 people who would benefit if Virginia tapped federal Medicaid dollars.
We have a short window to make this happen. You can:
Schedule a meeting with your delegate and senator. Email me when you have a meeting scheduled and one of us will help you prepare.
Organize a letter-writing opportunity at your congregation or community organization (or maybe before Thanksgiving dinner!) to send letters to your delegate and senator.
Use our new bulletin insert in your congregation’s bulletin. (You can also use this for the talking points in your letter-writing; it is posted on the VICPP website.)
Now is the time to act. Don’t wait till the General Assembly starts. Advocate now!
With peace and justice,
With peace and justice,
Executive Director, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
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Support Virginia’s voice for conscience-driven social justice!
FORMER CENTER BOARD CHAIR FATHER GERRY CREEDON PASSES AWAY
Father Gerard (Gerry) Creedon, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Dale City, died on Thursday, Nov. 16. He was 73. Creedon was born Feb. 16, 1944, in County Cork, Ireland, the fourth of 14 children of John J. and Margaret Creedon. He was the brother of Therese Wilson; Nora Mary Hyde; Oliver; Bernard; Thomas; Joseph; Dominic; William J.; Miriam O’Connell; and Margaret O’Shea. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Drs. Cornelius D., Richard and Michael Anthony Creedon.Funeral arrangements are pending. He attended seminary at All Hallows Seminary in Dublin and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Richmond June 16, 1968. He has a bachelor’s degree in English and Latin from University College in Dublin (1964), a master’s degree in theology from Washington Theological Union (1978) and a master’s degree in social work from The Catholic University of America (1981). He served as parochial vicar of Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria, 1968-75; St. Luke Church in McLean, 1975-78; and St. Agnes Church in Arlington, 1978-79. He served as pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria, 1979-91. “Sadly, we have lost today a great servant of God,” said former Virginia Interfaith Center Director the Rev. Charles Swadley. “He chaired the VICPP board most of the time I was its Director, and always an affirming and encouraging leader deeply committed to social justice,” said the Rev. Fletcher Lowe, also a former Virginia Interfaith Center Director.
ANNUAL ISSUES SURVEY AVAILABLE ONLINE
Each year we ask for our supporters’ feedback to drive forward the work of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. Please take about 5 minutes to complete this brief survey by Dec. 1 so that we can have the results at our Annual Meeting and Celebration on Dec. 7. Here is the link to the survey: https://goo.gl/forms/
REGISTER NOW FOR OUR DEC. 7 ANNUAL AWARDS CELEBRATION
You can now buy your tickets, or reserve a sponsorship, for the Virginia Interfaith Center’s Annual Meeting and Awards Celebration. VICPP’s celebration will be held Thursday, Dec. 7, at the Robinson Theater Community Arts Center, located at 2903 Q Street in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond. This will again be an important year-end event for VICPP supporters, with great food, speakers and a time for honoring people and groups who have represented social justice work across the Commonwealth during 2017. The Rev. Dr. John Kinney, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Beaver Dam and recently retired Dean of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, will be the keynote speaker. The annual event will also be an important fundraiser for the organization, with a Silent Auction and tickets and sponsorship options available. New this year is an “after party” with music and dancing! We are soliciting sponsorships and items for the Silent Auction; if you want to donate something, email Kim@virginiainterfaithcenter.
org or Neill@ virginiainterfaithcenter.org.
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE
Are you interested in volunteering for the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy? We’ve just posted a list of numerous opportunities for you to help us. The Center has a small staff. The work of the Center is largely done through volunteer chapters around the state, volunteer board members and others who want to help by volunteering. Duties include help needed before and during our Annual Meeting and Awards Celebration on Dec. 7, our Day for All People on Jan. 23, during the upcoming General Assembly session (Jan. 10 to March 10), and general help around the office in the Shockoe Bottom section of Richmond. Volunteer tasks include a range of skills and abilities tied together by a desire to bring people of all faiths together to do social justice advocacy. Again, just visit our website and social media sites to learn more about the many volunteer opportunities the Center has available.
SIGN UP FOR THE ‘WITNESS AT THE CAPITOL’ PROGRAM
Speaking of online registration, you can also sign up for the Center’s “Witness at the Capitol” program! This program was started last year and will be expanded during the 2018 General Assembly session, from mid-January to mid-March. The Witness at the Capitol team is comprised of volunteers who serve as faithful citizen advocates on the VICPP priority issues during the legislative session. We would like volunteers to commit for at least a week during the session. There will be one short training call before the session for new volunteers. At the beginning of the session, the work “week” is usually Monday through Thursday, but sometimes there are events on Friday as well. Volunteers should be people of faith and comfortable talking about the faith dimensions of the issues. Witnesses will:
Attend and report on committee and subcommittee meetings.
Meet with legislators and their staff.
Communicate the legislators’ position to VICPP members.
Draft background pieces and alerts for engaging the membership in the issues.
Testify on behalf of issues VICPP is supporting.
Facebook and tweet about the issues.
Retired clergy, deacons, student campus ministry leaders and laypersons are sought. If you are interested but have questions, contact Kim Bobo at Kim@virginiainterfaithcenter.
SIGN OUR PETITION: ASK CONGRESS TO PASS IMMIGRATION REFORM
VICPP stands with recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA-holders are teenagers and young adults who have grown up and been educated in the U.S. They are teachers, lawyers, dentists, entrepreneurs and serve in our nation’s military. About 12,000 are Virginians: neighbors, friends, family members, parents and children. The Justice Department announcement introduces these vital students, workers and parents to an uncertain future with a great deal of anxiety. The announcement also creates an opportunity for the U.S. Congress to pass a real legislative solution within the next six months. We stand in support of the Dream Act while advocating for relief for currently excluded undocumented people.This six-month deadline leaves no time to delay. Click here to sign a petition calling on Congress to pass the Dream Act and broader immigration reform.
REGISTER FOR THE 2018 DAY FOR ALL PEOPLE
You can now register online for the next Day for All People advocacy day, which has been scheduled for Jan. 23, 2018, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the State Capitol and the Powhatan Building. This will be a great day for people around the Commonwealth to gather for advocacy. Tickets are $30 for the day-long event; $15 for students;” “early bird” rate of $25 if registered by Jan. 11. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. There will be informative speakers on key legislative issues before the General Assembly, and opportunities to meet with your legislators.
UNITED METHODISTS SCHEDULE ANNUAL ADVOCACY DAY FOR FEB. 1
United Methodist Day at the General Assembly is an opportunity to help faith communities become empowered to serve as missionaries of justice. This event will be held Thursday, Feb. 1 from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Due to construction at Capitol Square this year and the relocation of the General Assembly Building, space will be more limited. A briefing will be held Wednesday, Jan. 31 at Bon Air UMC in North Chesterfield at 7:30 p.m. Questions may be directed to the Rev. Barbara Lewis at BarbaraLewis@vaumc.org or (434) 594-6241. Find more information here.
JEWISH COMMUNITY RELATIONS COUNCIL TO SPONSOR LEGISLATIVE EVENT
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington is sponsoring a Legislative Reception on Dec. 12 at the JCC of Northern Virginia, 8900 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax, 22031. The event will begin with a reception at 7 p.m., followed by dinner and the program. The cost is $18. Visit www.jcouncil.org/NOVAreception for more information.
MUSLIM GROUP HOSTING COFFEE AND Q&A SESSIONS ON THURSDAYS
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Richmond Chapter, is hosting coffee and cake sessions where people can ask any question they have about Islam. They meet Thursdays from 7-8 p.m. at the Starbucks located at 7000 Forest Ave #100, Richmond, 23230.
HEALTHCARE ENROLLMENT OPEN THROUGH DEC. 15
Health insurance can protect you from astronomical costs when a serious accident or illness occurs. Did you know that the average cost for a three-day hospital stay is $30,000? Or that a broken leg can cost up to $7,500? Health insurance helps protect you from unexpected costs like these. Coverage could be more affordable than you think. You can purchase a plan or renew your coverage through HealthCare.gov. Once you sign up, you will get coverage that starts on January 1, 2018. Here are four facts you need to know about enrolling or renewing your coverage:
The open enrollment period for HealthCare.gov ends on Dec. 15. The open enrollment period is the shortest ever – only 45 days.
Coverage could be more affordable than you think. That’s because financial help is available. During last year’s enrollment period, 8-in-10 people qualified for financial help – for most people that meant they could find premiums between $50 and $100 per month.
If you have coverage through HealthCare.gov for 2017, make sure to head back to update your information and compare your options for 2018, by Dec. 15. Every year, plans and prices change. You may find a plan that fits you better, for cheaper.
Free help is available. If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional, assistance is just a call or click away. The Call Center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – call 1-800-318-2596, or visit https://localhelp.healthcare.
gov where you will find organizations in your area that have trained enrollment assisters.
Make sure to share former President Obama’s video, and go to GetAmericaCovered.org for even more resources on how we can ensure that America gets covered. You can also join the new campaign of people pledging to be a healthcare voter, and hold elected officials accountable for their votes on healthcare. Learn more at HealthCareVoter.org.
EXPANDING HEALTHCARE ACCESS NEWS
The New York Times
“The election results in Maine and Virginia have energized supporters of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in several holdout states. After months of battling Republican efforts to repeal the law, they now see political consensus shifting in their direction. Groups in Idaho and Utah are already working through the process of getting Medicaid expansion initiatives on next year’s ballots, hoping to follow Maine’s path after failing through the legislative route. Advocacy groups are also hoping the decisive victory in Maine, and exit polls suggesting healthcare was the top issue in Virginia, will add momentum to efforts in Kansas and North Carolina.”
Los Angeles Times
“The polarizing issue of healthcare, which has dragged down Democrats since passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, emerged from Tuesday’s state elections as a potentially formidable new force in the party’s efforts to regain power in next year’s congressional elections. In Maine, voters resoundingly backed a ballot measure to expand Medicaid through the federal healthcare law, rejecting President Trump’s effort to roll back the law and overriding their Republican governor’s refusal to embrace it. And worries about healthcare in Virginia helped fuel a solid victory for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam and Democratic legislative candidates across the state. The issue topped voters’ concerns in exit polls Tuesday, with Northam winning a whopping three-quarters of those identifying healthcare as their priority.”
“As the administration and Republicans in Congress look to scale back Medicaid, many voters and state lawmakers across the country are moving to make it bigger. Last week Maine voters approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Advocates are looking to follow suit with ballot measures in Utah, Missouri and Idaho in 2018. Virginia may also have another go at expansion after the Legislature thwarted Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s attempt to expand Medicaid. Virginia voters elected Democrat Ralph Northam to succeed McAuliffe as governor in January, and Democrats made inroads in the state legislature, too. An exit poll of Virginia voters on Election Day found that 39 percent of them ranked healthcare as their No. 1 issue. A study from the Urban Institute may shed some light on why Medicaid eligibility remains a pressing problem: medical debt. While personal debts related to healthcare are on the decline overall, they remain far higher in states that didn’t expand Medicaid.”
The (Raleigh) News & Observer
“North Carolina’s Republican state lawmakers studying the results of last Tuesday’s elections in Virginia may have realized that even gerrymandering can’t protect them from voters fed up with legislation that denies the popular will. After holding a 66-47 majority in Virginia’s House of Delegates, Republicans lost 19 seats and could lose a couple more as close races are recounted. But if gerrymandering isn’t a sure protection for Republicans in North Carolina, maybe expanding Medicaid could bolster their chances. It would be an extraordinary move for a very conservative Republican-led General Assembly, but it is the kind of broad and sweeping change Republicans must make if they hope to counter a mounting revolt against legislative actions that have been both hard-hearted and soft-headed.”
The Associated Press
“This week’s groundswell of political change in Virginia has improved the odds of Medicaid expansion becoming law there. The long-stalled liberal priority gained new life after Democrats nearly wiped out Republicans’ overwhelming majority in the House of Delegates. For years Medicaid expansion, a key part of former President Obama’s healthcare law, has been a non-starter in the Old Dominion. Republicans, who controlled two-thirds of Virginia’s House seats, have fiercely rejected expansion. Democrats have only made perfunctory pushes on the issue since 2014, when they lost a months-long showdown with the GOP. That all changed Tuesday as Democrats won at least 15 House seats. Democratic House Leader David Toscano said the election has ‘totally changed the dynamic’ on Medicaid expansion, shifting it from a lost cause to something with serious momentum.”