Local members of Organizing for Action have scheduled an April 2 public forum in Longview to discuss the benefits of the Medicaid expansion that is part of the Affordable Care Act. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 2500 McCann.

Carl Walters II, CEO of WellnessPointe; Kim Nesvig, Interim Executive Director at Special Health Resources for Texas; and David Deel, Assistant Director of Integrated Health Services at Community Healthcore are the panelists scheduled to take part in the forum. Organizer Vik Verma says that both Longview Regional Medical Center and Good Shepherd Medical System also have been offered a chance to participate on the panel which will discuss the benefits participants see if Texas officials decide to opt in to the Medicaid expansion.

“We really want a huge turnout,” Verma says. “We want to educate the community about the Medicaid expansion. We want people to bring their friends, even if they are skeptical. The Medicaid expansion will provide coverage to 1.5 million more Texans and be a net economic benefit for Texas.”

Texas lawmakers have been wrangling for weeks on how to respond to the federal government’s offer to inject more than $100 billion into the state’s Medicaid program over the next 10 years at a total cost to the state of a little more than $15 billion. Gov. Rick Perry has expressed his reluctance to take part in the expanded program.

The Texas Hospital Association and Texas Medical Association have both urged state leaders in Austin to work out a way to participate in the Medicaid expansion.

Supporters of the expansion say it would inject new revenue into the state’s economy, provide

improved health care for more Texans and ease the financial pressures on hospitals that provide uncompensated care for Texans who lack health insurance. The two trade associations have said the expansion should only come with reforms in the system that will encourage more providers to participate.

For more information, contact Vik Verma at (903) 522-1304 or e-mail him at v2aggie2@yahoo.com.