By Dora Muhammad, Health Care Hope Organizer for VICPP —

What would you say to a pastor who does not believe that Medicaid expansion is happening? I am confronted with this reality this week. Are we not getting the word out as best we can to the faith community? Our Health Care Hope campaign centers on the fundamental process of access—access to information, access to assistance, access to health care—and equipping faith communities to build these necessary access ramps for the uninsured in their congregations and communities.

Upon reflection, I realized that message delivery is not the issue. It is not that a pastor doesn’t know about Medicaid expansion—it’s that a pastor doesn’t believe it is happening.  This pastor has heard, seen or read the news about Medicaid expansion – but has rejected the message. How could that be? Belief is based on trust because when we hear things, we ask ourselves if we can trust the source.  Is the pastor’s disbelief symptomatic of this era’s ‘fake news’ fallout? Or does it stem from a pessimism about government? If we lined up the uninsured to say that they are hoping their Medicaid applications are approved and they can get coverage, would the pastor believe then? Would their voices be heard and trusted? Or would they be dismissed as being paid actors?

Well, Medicaid expansion is not fake news. It’s real and it’s happening. There is video (marker 6:02:22) with sound of the General Assembly passing the budget that will expand Medicaid on May 30, 2018. The budget bill can be printed; it can be read online.  So how penetrating is the suspension of belief? Is it that there is disbelief that Virginia will indeed fulfill the legal mandate to administer the expansion of the Medicaid program?  Certainly, the hard work of the staff and leadership of the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), the state agency responsible for Medicaid administration, dispels that notion. Here is DMAS Director Dr. Jennifer Lee providing a status report on the implementation of the Medicaid expansion to the House Appropriations Committee on October 15, 2018 (video marker 10:40:00).

Don’t become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don’t sit on the sidelines, cradling disbelief about the process of implementation. Instead, let’s work together to make it a success.  Become a part of the process of implementation. Help us educate every single person within your reach and sound of your voice.  Host an informational session and resource fair at your house of worship. You can play a vital role in providing the uninsured in your congregation with information and resources to help them understand Medicaid expansion and help them apply for coverage.

CALL TO ACTION: Become a health care advocacy partner! Email:

And if you are currently uninsured and have applied or plan to apply for Medicaid, help us dispel these myths and disbeliefs about Medicaid expansion by becoming a part of our storytelling project. Sharing your story will help others understand the realities of people’s lives that called for the need to expand Medicaid in the first place and inspire people to do all they can to ensure Medicaid expansion in Virginia endures successfully. It may not wield the power of the Gospel, but it will certainly help save lives. And that is good news we all should be joyful to receive.

CALL TO ACTION: Become a part of our storytelling project! Email:  

Photo: Dora Muhammad (third from left) presents at NAACP Health Care Symposium, Oct., 2018