Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. Begins South Carolina Manifesto, Medicaid Crusade in Rock Hill, South Carolina and Spartanburg , South Carolina
On July 28, 2015, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., national civil rights leader and founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, led a spirited town hall meeting in Rock Hill, South Carolina, calling on Governor Nikki Haley to reconsider her decision to reject nearly $1.2 billion in Medicaid money for the state in 2016. Joined by State Representative John King and Former State Representative James Felder, Rev. Jackson led a full crowd of Rock Hill residents at the Freedom Center in a rousing call for Medicaid expansion.
The next morning, Rev. Jackson and Former Representative Felder appeared at a leadership breakfast with State Representative James Mitchell. City officials from Spartanburg, along with local ministers, community leaders, and Greek Letter Organization members joined the assembly.
Rev. Jackson praised Governor Haley for removing the confederate flag from state capitol grounds, but explained that South Carolina voters must understand the difference between the cosmetic and the structural; the symbolic and the substantive. “The flag agenda must come down with the flag,” Jackson said to thunderous applause. “The flag agenda,” he continued, “is separation of races and denial of resources.”
By rejecting the $1.2 billion in Medicaid money from the federal government for 2016, Governor Nikki Haley guarantees that 23,000 people will not get cholesterol screenings, 6,500 women will not get mammograms, and 432,000 South Carolinians will not make an annual visit to a doctor. The poor will not have prescriptions. The sick will not have sedatives. The disabled will be unable to get treatment. The wounded will not heal. Beyond race and beyond politics, Medicaid is a human issue and right with literal lives hanging in the balance.
While the rejection of Medicaid invites fiscal and medical death, an acceptance of Medicaid expansion promises life. 200,000 South Carolina residents without health insurance, equally divided between white and black citizens, will have access to hope and healing. The state’s leading hospital associations support Medicaid expansion because they accept that their care and treatment rests on the foundational support of social services and programs. A Medicaid expansion will bring 45,000 jobs to South Carolina.
“Medicaid gets us to look past black and white and onto wrong and right,” Rev. Jackson told the Rock Hill and Spartanburg audiences, pointing out the obvious that “we all need medical care.” Medicaid and health care enable everyone to aspire toward social transcendence and political togetherness: “We can leave the racial battleground to find economic common ground and reach for moral higher ground.”
Rev. Jackson, Former Representative James Felder, State Representative John King, State Representative Harold Mitchell, elected officials across South Carolina, Hospital Association members, and Greek Letter Organizations will continue their tour of the state, making stops in major cities and small towns, to mobilize Medicaid support, attracting audiences and gathering petition signatures. The crusade will culminate on August 28 in Columbia, South Carolina, where Jackson and local leaders will issue a statewide agenda. At the conference, they will elevate care and compassion for children, the sick, the disabled, and the elderly at the highest place of political prominence by demanding Governor Haley turn on the faucet, let the Medicaid funds flow, and allow the healing to begin.
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.