RICHMOND - Governor Terry McAuliffe today invited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to join him on Friday as he travels to the Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic at the Wise County Fairgrounds, which runs from July 21-23 this year. Governor McAuliffe has visited the RAM clinic every year he has been in office to hear firsthand from patients, medical staff, and volunteers. He has fought to provide many of these Virginians with regular, year-round health care options through Medicaid expansion, which has been consistently rejected by the General Assembly.
The full text of the invitation to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is below:
Dear Majority Leader McConnell,
This Friday, July 21, I will visit the 18th Annual Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic in Wise County, Virginia, which borders eastern Kentucky. As you may know, RAM is a non-profit organization that provides necessary quality medical care to rural, isolated, and impoverished communities through annual clinics. If your schedule will accommodate, I hope you will join me to meet these individuals to hear their stories firsthand.
The Virginians who attend this clinic are hard-working people who do not have access to the high-quality health insurance that you and I do. For many of them, the RAM clinic will offer the only medical or dental care they can access for the entire year. These Virginians live one accident or illness away from financial ruin. If the effort you have advanced to repeal the Affordable Care Act without an immediate replacement is successful, there will certainly be a strong need for additional clinics like this one. The RAM clinic and similar clinics are not a permanent solution for the lack of affordable health insurance. These clinics are constrained in resources and depend on volunteer doctors to serve patients on a limited basis. In addition, families must travel great distances and wait in long lines to receive basic medical and dental care.
Many of the men and women you have an opportunity to meet this week qualify to receive access to health care benefits under the Affordable Care Act, through Medicaid expansion. Unfortunately, partisan politics in Virginia have denied these individuals the coverage to which they are entitled, forcing them to rely on the charity of others for basic care. I am told that the number of Kentucky residents who crossed the border into Virginia to take advantage of RAM clinics has declined since your state expanded Medicaid. However, that trend would likely reverse if the legislation you have proposed to repeal the Affordable Care Act passes.
As you continue to consider the future of the American health care system, I hope you will accept my sincere invitation to join me this Friday. The actions you and your colleagues in Washington take on this important issue can either improve the lives of these individuals, or consign even more Virginians, Kentuckians, and people from across this country to the struggle that they face.
Terence R. McAuliffe