Arrests made amid General Assembly protest over Medicaid expansion

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – People arrested during a sit-in at the General Assembly Tuesday morning, returned to downtown Raleigh in the evening demanding the expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina.

The Rev. William J. Barber II, President of the state NAACP and Convener of the Forward Together Moral Movement, was among those arrested.

They were charged with second-degree trespassing.

William Barber’s mugshot from his Tuesday arrest. (CCBI)

“The idea of being too sick to function is very real to me,” said Xena Eriksen, who could qualify for Medicaid under the expansion.

Though 22-years-old, Eriksen can’t get on her parents’ health insurance plans because they’re disabled and are on Medicare. She also doesn’t qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

“I have multiple pre-existing conditions that scare me for long-term if the Affordable Care Act gets repealed,” said Eriksen.

The North Carolina NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement, along with doctors, clergy, and other activists were at the sit-in at the General Assembly today in support of Medicaid expansion.

According to a press release from the state NAACP, the sit-in was held to “protest the denial of Medicaid expansion by the extremist-controlled [legislature].”

The event featured speakers who have been impacted by the General Assembly’s “moral failure to expand Medicaid” and from speakers whose lives will be impacted if the Affordable Care Act is altered or repealed, according to organizers.

“Health care ought to be viewed as a human right. We need a universal health care system. We do not [need] the cruel dismantling of the Affordable Care Act which will leave millions of North Carolinians without health care,” Barber said.

Up to 500,000 additional people in North Carolina could be covered if Medicaid were expanded.

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State Republicans have opposed Medicaid expansion, questioning whether the federal government would continue to pay most of the cost (currently 90 to 95 percent).

Now that the Affordable Care Act may be repealed and replaced, they say there’s more uncertainty.

“Prudence would say see what changes are going to occur at the federal level and what the federal government’s actually going to be willing to pay for,” said Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake).

The protest began at 10 a.m., and the first activist arrest came just after 11 a.m.

The protesters were holding the sit-in at House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Leader Phil Berger’s offices.

Barber was seen leading chants outside the leaders’ offices as the arrests were taking place.

Following the sit-in during the morning, people gathered on Bicentennial Mall in the evening for a rally.

 

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