Stand to Expand | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Stand to Expand

Mississippi is the only state in the country where the rate of its medically uninsured citizens has risen after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This, 65-year-old Michael Johansson said, is a disgrace in a state that "prides itself as being one of the most generous and charitable in the nation."

Johansson celebrated his 65th birthday Aug. 3 and became eligible for federally funded Medicare. But, while he is grateful for the coverage, his frustration with the state's refusal to award the same essential services to thousands of people prompted him to act. He began to hold rallies on the first Sunday of each month at the state capitol to ask state leaders to extend Medicaid to uninsured Mississippians.

Approximately 165,000 currently uninsured citizens would gain coverage if the state were to expand Medicaid.

"This health-care crisis has become a human rights crisis that could be solved by a vote in the state Legislature and a stroke of the governor's pen," Johansson said.

The federal government would fund 100 percent of the expansion for the first three years and never below 90 percent thereafter.

The rally—called "Stand to Expand"—will take place on the south steps of the capitol building on Oct. 5 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on the first Sunday of each month until Medicaid is expanded to those in need of health care. Johansson asks that supporters bring respectful signs to urge state leaders to act.

For more information on Johansson's efforts, visit the Facebook page Mississippi for Medicaid: Stand to Expand.

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