When Alabama Children First, Alabama Arise, and our partners in advocacy who make up the Healthy General Fund Partnership (HGFP) realized that Alabama would be facing a substantial budget shortfall which would affect Medicaid, we knew we could not stand idly by.
The 2016 legislative session started with a proposed budget for FY2017 that cut a gaping $85 million dollar hole in Alabama Medicaid. Both the Governor and Medicaid commissioner publicly outlined a series of cuts that would take effect if this budget became reality, including cutting payments to primary physicians, eliminating outpatient dialysis, scaling back drug coverage, and several other service reductions.
The HGFP group is composed of almost 50 statewide and regional nonprofits; “do-gooders” as most would call us. We did not have deep operating budgets to help us combat this problem with an expensive marketing campaign. However, we knew that if we could educate the public about the real-life consequences of this budget shortfall then we could have a chance to create change organically.
We also knew that the word “Medicaid” and its recipients were vastly misunderstood and many times, if you could simply educate people then compassion follows. It was in this idea that the #IamMedicaid campaign was born.
In the end, when the 2017 General Fund budget became law the Medicaid agency received the full funding it needed. While #IamMedicaid served its immediate purpose, we still feel it has a greater need to serve today as our federal counterparts grapple with healthcare coverage for the nation.
Rehabilitating the word “Medicaid” is a long-term problem that will take a long-term solution. Nevertheless, with every recipient’s picture, story, post, tweet, and testimony compassion grows. We truly believe this campaign is something that could help educate the entire nation and hoped other states would make one of their own eventually.
We have developed this toolkit to help other states recreate the campaign and make it their own. It’s simple but if you have questions along the way, we are here to help.