By Leandra Lacy
This Mama’s Day, we recognize and celebrate the tenacity of Black mothers living in Georgia and the South. Many of these women are struggling to support their families while living under the pressure of structural violence and deserve access to resources that help maintain their health, safety, and wellbeing and that of their families. Unfortunately, due to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s refusal to expand Medicaid eligibility and therefore healthcare access in Georgia, many of these women are forced to go without quality, competent healthcare.
Every day, I strive to honor my mother’s strength as I fight for healthcare access for the hundreds of thousands of low-income uninsured Georgians, many of whom are women and children. As an intern at SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, I have compiled research on the impact that Medicaid expansion would have on low-income Black women and low-income Black LGBTQQ communities in Georgia. The benefits to expansion are incredible. 650,000 Georgians would be eligible for healthcare, thousands of lives would be saved costing the state zero dollars for the first three years.
My mother became the sole provider of my household when my father passed away. Fortunately, she receives medical and dental care benefits that extend and provide coverage for my sister and me due to provisions of the Affordable Care Act that allow us to remain on our mother’s policy until age 26. Though we are extremely blessed to have healthcare under my mother’s plan, I wonder about those young people whose parents are not employed or underemployed. How can they get covered? What of the children of the 70% of Black workers employed in blue-collar jobs that typically provide low wages and are less likely to even offer health insurance coverage?
However, there are plenty of mothers and families in Georgia who must face the unfortunate reality of living without healthcare coverage. Black women in Georgia earn an average of 62.1 cents for every dollar earned by a non-Hispanic white male. Low-income women are more likely to forgo doctor’s visits, getting recommended tests, and following up care due to costs. While this should be alarming to all Georgians, our Governor is currently set to sign into law yet another piece of legislation that would increase the barriers between Black women and their families and quality, competent healthcare.
Black women have the right to healthcare for themselves and their families. I firmly believe that the key to leading a fulfilling life is being the healthiest person you can be, and this is why I am fighting for Medicaid expansion in Georgia. So that all low-income Black mothers can have access to health services outlined in the Affordable Care Act. By making coverage more affordable, the expansion will give these mothers and their children a chance to take advantage of resources that will keep them healthy. This Mother’s Day, let’s all pledge to give our mama’s a gift they can use year-round and one that saves their lives! You can join the fight for Medicaid expansion today by visiting sparkrj.org.
Leandra Lacy is a Black feminist from Columbia, South Carolina who enjoys soul food and sunny days. As an intern with SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, she is able to use her passion for health promotion and advocacy on behalf of Black women. She is pursuing a Master of Public Health degree at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, after earning her Bachelor of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2013. She is interested in comprehensive sexual health education for Black female adolescents and teens and, in the future, she hopes to work in underprivileged communities in the South as a health educator.