Outside the Senate chambers March 4, SC Progressive Network Director Brett Bursey explains to a reporter with The State why Truthful Tuesday activists blocked the road to the SC State House entrance. Eleven were arrested. (At the time of the interview, the protesters were still being processed at police headquarters, and Bursey thought 10 had been arrested.)
Three ministers were among 11 activists arrested for blocking the road to the SC State House entrance March 4, on the day the Senate took up the “Nullify Obamacare” bill, recently amended to the “ACA Anti-Commandeering Act.” The civil disobedience action was the latest in a sustained effort to educate the public about the Affordable Care Act and to shame state lawmakers into expanding Medicaid. Failure to do so will result in as many as 1,400 deaths this year.
See photos of the arrests here.
On Feb. 25, advocates for Medicaid expansion in South Carolina gathered at the State House for a “Day of Shame,” targeting senators as they went into session. The Senate is expected to take up the “Nullify Obamacare” bill as early as this week.
Organizers Brett Bursey and Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III remind us why we are there.
In anticipation of the Senate taking up the Nullify Obamacare bill next week (H-3101, which passed the House last year), we are calling for a Truthful Tuesday Day of Shame on Feb. 25. We will gather in the upstairs lobby at 11am and greet the Senators as they go into session at noon. Bring signs and scarves (we’ll have some for folks who don’t.)
We will politely ask each one of them whether they support the Affordable Health Care Act and expanding Medicaid. If they say no, or refuse to answer, we will look them in the eye and simply say “Shame!”
We have been advised that disturbing a legislative session is punishable by three years in prison and a $5,000 fine, AND the Fifth Circuit Solicitor has advised our lawyers and the police that they WILL be using that charge should anyone violate 10-11-330. Given the unreasonable consequences, we are not calling for civil disobedience at this time and place.
We firmly believe that civil disobedience is a legitimate tactic that should be pursued. There are times when it is morally imperative for people to take a stand (or sit-in) against evil. It is what ended Jim Crow, brought an end to the Vietnam war, and is the people’s ultimate weapon against fatally wrong state actions. The primary beneficiary of CD is the participant whose principles are tested and found victorious. The tactic wakes the public, and forces the media to address why people are willing to get arrested.
If you are considering CD in the future, you must check in with our CD coordinator, Network Director Brett Bursey, for a briefing. Call 803-808-3384 for details.
We believe that when a majority of our legislators make partisan decisions that will cause hundreds of unnecessary deaths, it is incumbent on citizens to “disturb the orderly conduct” of such a body. We are committed to disturbing these politicians by exposing their shameless, petty, partisan self-serving conduct that violates their oath to serve the common good.
We have been reluctant to call shots when the legal liabilities were unclear, and our commitment to an open and democratic process has had us waiting for consensus from parties that are not responding.
We invite those allies who have fallen away from the effort to re-engage. The Moral Mondays spotlight in the regional and national media has given our own movement a boost, as the media has taken to linking our movements. We are resolved to press on. Please join us for the good fight and the long haul.
Bookmark TruthfulTuesday.net to stay connected. Finally, watch Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter in this clip at a Truthful Tuesday planning meeting, where she says she’s saving bond money in case she needs it. She’s stepping up. So can you.
History was made yesterday in the SC House Judiciary Election and Ethics Laws Subcommittee when Chairman Alan Clemmons approved two bills that the SC Progressive Network supported in hearings. These bills, which will make voting more transparent and accountable, are the first Network-promoted bills in 10 years to clear Rep. Clemmons’ committee. (He was the primary sponsor of the photo ID bill that the Network fought for several years.)
The first bill, H-3198, sponsored by Richland Rep. James Smith (D), will put the State Election Commission in charge of elections. The current voting system gives each of the 46 county Election Boards independence from centralized control. The system was designed by the state constitution of 1895 to disenfranchise black citizens by allowing the senator from each county to appoint the board. This was following a decade when the SC House was the only legislative body in the nation that was majority-black.
Rep. Clemmons signed onto the bill, stating that a centralized authority would make for more professional and consistent management of elections.
For years, the Network has advocated giving the State Election Commission authority over the county boards. “The SEC can only advise the county boards, and they often have different interpretations of the laws,” said Network director Brett Bursey. “It’s difficult to explain to people that no one is in charge of elections in South Carolina.”
The second bill, H-4364, was drafted by Bursey and introduced by Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter. He referred to the bill as a “State Section 5 Registry,” filed after the US Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act that required states with a history of racial discrimination to “prefile” changes to voting procedures to insure that they did not negatively affect minority voters.
“With the loss of the federal Section 5 registry,” Bursey testified, “there is no public notice of voting changes.” Clemmons agreed with Bursey that citizens deserve to be notified of changes to election laws, and approved H-4364′s requirement that all changes will be reported to the SEC and posted on the its web site.
“This won’t keep bad things from happening,” Bursey said, “but at least voters and advocacy groups will be given notice before they take effect.”
Our Truthful Tuesday efforts have kept Medicaid Expansion a hot topic in South Carolina. As more people realize our political leaders have been lying about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, they also grow more skeptical about other extremist propaganda. Like why the state with the lowest individual taxes is too broke to afford to educate its children.
The Truthful Tuesday Coalition has decided to focus our immediate efforts on demanding that SC take our federal tax money back to provide health care for a quarter of a million of our poorest citizens. We will work on other issues, but see the crass immorality of refusing the healthcare funding as the worst symptom of the anti-government, anti-tax madness that is keeping us poor, sick and uneducated.
H-3101, the “Nullify Obamacare” bill that passed the House last year, will be up for debate in the Senate in the next few days. The bill that passed the House is considered, even by some Tea Party Senators, to be an unconstitutional rejection of federal law. We expect the debate to be another opportunity to expose the governor’s and the majority party’s anti-Obama position as political pandering. Their refusal to take the Medicaid expansion money will cause over 1,000 deaths this year. Enough is enough.
We encourage you to join us in lobbying Senators this week and next. The Senate will take up the ethics reform bill on Tuesday, Feb. 18, and may debate it all week. (“Enough” scarves and “Expand Medicaid” signs available at the Network office, 2025 Marion St. Call 803-445-1921 to arrange a pickup.)
As soon as we know when the nullify bill is scheduled for the Senate floor, we will send out a call for a mass turnout.
The church is on trial when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, warns the Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III, pastor at Charity Mission Baptist Church in North Charleston. Will it move to protect “the least of these” or will it miss an opportunity?
A coalition of churches, organizations and individual activists is working together to expand Medicaid in SC in 2014. Get involved. See TruthfulTuesday.net for details, or call 803-808-3384.
Written and performed by Dave Lippman
Whoa, where do you go when you want everyone to know
We’ll tell you tomorrow enough is enough
Hey Nicki Haley, education you shelve
Illegally low funding for K through 12
Funding for college, down 40%
Tuition through the roof, so much for food and rent
Gerrymandering without a true case
Vote suppression creeps in like a nun
But Tuesday’s wild, your party is a disgrace
We are not done
Truthful Tuesday, so good to me
Truthful Tuesday it was all I hoped it would be
Though Truthful Tuesday, Truthful Tuesday couldn’t guarantee
That Tuesday evenin’ South Carolina would be free
Every other day
Legislature gets away with crime, yeah
But whenever Tuesday comes, but whenever Tuesday comes
You can find me mopping up all the slime
Truthful Tuesday how I love Truthful Tuesday
Get to take back our state all day
Not like Monday, that no fun day
When they’re withholdin’ our Medicaid
On Wednesday, they cut what we need
We say enough is enough, we secede
‘Cause Thursday they raise what students pay
And Friday ALEC gets its way
Saturday mornin’, oh Saturday mornin’
All my health care has gone away
They got my money and my union, honey
And they’re buying’ elections every day
Sunday mornin’ I’m feelin’ bad
This is the worst government I’ve ever had
But I’ve got to get my rest
Cause Truthful Tuesday’s the best
Whoa, where do you go when you want everyone to know
We’ll tell you tomorrow enough is enough
By Becci Robbins
Communications Director, SC Progressive Network
As Moral Mondays take off in North Carolina, the media has taken to linking our movements, along with Georgia’s Moral Mondays. But while the Truthful Tuesday movement has been informed and inspired by our neighbors, it is actually continuation of work a coalition of activists in South Carolina began in 2011 in response to proposed deep budget cuts to education and critical social services.
At last year’s SC Progressive Network fall retreat in October, participants issued a call for a mass action at the SC State House on the opening day of the legislative session. Between then and January, organizers worked hard to make it happen. It paid off.
The Enough is Enough rally was powerful, providing enough fuel to launch “Truthful Tuesdays,” a sustained lobbying effort targeting SC lawmakers pushing an extreme agenda at the expense of the state’s most vulnerable: children, the elderly, the infirm and the poor.
This year, Truthful Tuesdays will be focused on getting lawmakers to expand Medicaid. Failure to do so will cost an estimated 1,400 South Carolinians their lives.
As each organization comes on board, the coalition grows stronger and more able to defend “the least of these.”
Join us! Call 803-808-3384 or email info@TruthfulTuesday.net for details.
The rally and lobby action were enough pressure for lawmakers to reduce their budget cuts by one-third. Rep. Joe Neal recounts how it went down in this clip, from the Network’s spring conference in June, 2011.
The South is rising, y’all!
Orangeburg Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter tells Truthful Tuesday organizers at a meeting Feb. 4 that the SC Legislative Black Caucus fully supports their efforts, and that the Caucus is crafting a bill to expand Medicaid in South Carolina in 2014. There has never been a vote on the Affordable Care Act in South Carolina, so no lawmakers are on record supporting or opposing this landmark legislation.
In this clip, Cobb-Hunter delivers a powerful message to community organizers about this moment in time being an extraordinary opportunity. Highly recommended viewing for all members of the SC Progressive Network and Truthful Tuesday partners.
She also says she’s gathering bond money in case the time comes for civil disobedience.
Bookmark TruthfulTuesday.net, and stay in touch with a growing coalition of people from across the state who refuse to be held hostage by state lawmakers pushing an extreme agenda in South Carolina. Enough is enough.
See photos from the first Truthful Tuesday lobby outside the Governor’s Office Feb. 4.
Our grassroots coalition helped make this story happen, and our effort is pushing this issue into the public debate — when even many of our allies had already declared the matter dead in 2014.
Join the Truthful Tuesday movement! Call 803-808-3384 or email info@TruthfulTuesday.net.
But let us ask a simple question. “Are taxpayers getting the most health for the money they spend on health care?” My answer is no – not by a long shot.
We spend more money for health services per person than any nation on earth. Year after year we devote a larger and larger portion of our paychecks, our payrolls and our state and federal budgets to health care services.
Maybe we wouldn’t worry about all of this spending if our outcomes were better, but they aren’t.
The United States is falling behind the rest of the world in infant mortality and life expectancy – and here in South Carolina we have one of the lowest life expectancies and highest infant mortality rates in the U.S.
With such high costs and such poor outcomes, why would we throw more money at the system without first demanding improved efficiency, quality, and accessibility?
The Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, says expand first and worry about the rest later.
Connecticut expanded early under Obamacare and just reported a $190 million Medicaid deficit – in spite of subjecting their citizens to a massive tax increase.
California just raised taxes in part to cover their Medicaid deficit and yet needs $350 million more to pay for Obamacare next year.
That’s not us. That’s not South Carolina.
The federal government likes to wave around a nine-dollar match like it is some silver bullet, some extraordinary benefit that we cannot pass up.
But what good do the nine dollars do us when we can’t come up with the one?
And what good are any dollars when they come through a program that doesn’t allow us the flexibility to make the decisions that are in the best interest of the people of South Carolina?
In the end, I cannot support this expansion for a very simple reason: it avoids addressing our health system’s high costs and poor outcomes.
As long as I am governor, South Carolina will not implement the public policy disaster that is Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
Instead, we need to improve health care value. And we will.
Rally Jan. 14, the first day of the legislative session. Among the demands was that lawmakers accept the federal grant to expand Medicaid, a move that would save an estimated 1,400 South Carolina lives. Join the Truthful Tuesday movement! Details at TruthfulTuesday.net.
David F. Keely, M.D.
Family Medicine and Public Health, Rock Hill, SC
Remarks made at the Truthful Tuesday Coalition’s Enough is Enough rally Jan. 14.
On behalf of Healthcare For All – South Carolina, our state’s chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, it gives me great pleasure to welcome everyone today for this important message about health care, present and future, in our state.
As a family physician with additional training and experience in public health, I have come to the point in my career of 35+ years in South Carolina where I can no longer stand idly by.
The term “health justice” is not heard often enough or loudly enough nowadays. Today we have already heard the disturbing information about the number of individuals who die unnecessarily every year in our state because they lack access to affordable, basic health care services – where is the justice in that?
Affordable and accessible quality health care for all should be the end goal in our country – and the Affordable Care Act [ACA] is a step in that direction.
In our current U.S. healthcare “system”, over 1,000 insurance companies offer a complex array of coverage plans; disgruntled physicians struggle daily with all the different private insurance “rules”; and, the administrative overhead of it all costs us as citizens about $400 BILLION each year! That’s enough “wasted money” to provide ongoing, accessible, affordable, quality healthcare (both preventive and sick care) for ALL 48 million Americans who are currently uninsured.
Over the past year, HFA-SC has reached out to community organizations, the faith-based community, and young physicians – newly-trained nurse practitioners. The ongoing debate in South Carolina about ACA-related Medicaid expansion has helped energize HFA-SC’s grassroots advocacy efforts. Yes, clearly the “new Medicaid” in South Carolina under the ACA brings essential health benefits that are not part of “existing SC Medicaid” – and what is at stake? — the current health and future welfare, educability, and productivity of South Carolina’s people all over the state! And I am here to say that our state’s physicians really need to speak out on this.
Officially, the South Carolina Medical Association’s Board of Trustees is staying neutral, despite our important grassroots voices gaining steam on the “new Medicaid” expansion issue in our state. From the SCMA website last legislative session, where it addressed the Affordable Care Act’s “new Medicaid” expansion, I quote: The SCMA’s Position The SCMA agrees with finding solutions to provide health care to all South Carolinians. However, we are concerned that the Medicaid expansion is a temporary and unsustainable fix that is not the solution for the long term health issues facing South Carolina.
This statement came across to me as the SCMA backing Governor Haley — I have to wonder though that that is not the true voice of physicians practicing in this state – and so I am glad that we are having this rally today to shed further light on that.
As a family physician (and small businessman), sure, I see existing South Carolina Medicaid insurance as needing to be more efficient — but HHS Director Tony Keck is already making good progress on this front, so existing SC Medicaid inefficiency is NOT a reason for refusing the “new Medicaid” expansion opportunity. Saving the lives of needy and deserving South Carolinians is what this debate needs to be about, first & foremost! That indeed is a smart investment!
As a family physician (who is active in the faith-based community in Rock Hill), I shudder and bleed compassion when I have to look into the face of medical bankruptcy and then also the ravages of totally preventable, advanced chronic disease in both rural and urban areas of our state.
Stories abound, as my colleagues gathered here today can well attest – economically-struggling, hard-working South Carolina adults with a poverty-level income, without dependent children, and thus no access to affordable health care due to the refusal of our state to extend the “new Medicaid” under the ACA to them.
In his guest op-ed in The State last year, Dr. Jeb Hallett (a seasoned surgeon practicing in Charleston), put into words very well what I believe so many physicians can no longer tolerate… I quote: “It is helpful to have an image of what rejecting Medicaid expansion will really look like. Forget the green Medicaid dollars that are the focus of too many lawmakers’ conversations; for them, this is all about a news conference where they politicize their loyalty to fiscal restraint.
As a health-care provider, I imagine the limbs of diabetics that will be amputated; I envision the twisted faces of those who forever will be changed by disabling strokes. Yes, leaving the most vulnerable citizens in our state uncovered results in greater expense for us all – as the uninsured often go without preventive care and proper ongoing treatment, that leads to emergency situations where much higher costs to treat are passed on to insurance companies – and then ultimately to policy holders as higher premiums. We all lose.
You should know that current South Carolina Medical Association President, Dr. Bruce Snyder, a vascular surgeon in Greenville, issued a call for “community action” to all SC physicians in April 2013 – it is published on the SCMA website.
I quote: “I challenge the physicians in South Carolina to be the leaders in their communities and in the state that I know they can be… Every physician in South Carolina knows an issue that is important to them which would have a positive impact on our state. Individually and collectively we should make sure our voices are heard on every subject, yes, every subject that has an impact on the health of South Carolinians.”
As concerned citizens, we need to echo this call loudly in our local communities. Yes, all of you, talk to your primary care and specialty physicians – now is the time!
So, in closing, please join HFA-SC and help us get the “silent” physicians around our state to speak up! Thank you!
Join the Truthful Tuesday movement.