Protesters stage die-in outside Sen. Norment's district office

jojacobs@vagazette.com

About a dozen protesters staged a die-in demonstration outside Sen. Thomas K. “Tommy” Norment’s district office in James City in support of Medicaid expansion Friday.

The protest was organized by the James River chapter of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, which has conducted close to 20 weeks of daily demonstrations outside Norment’s New Town office. Protestors blamed Norment for what they considered to be sluggish movement of Medicaid expansion through the General Assembly.

“This is what we thought was necessary,” said John Whitley of the local Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy chapter. “Norment’s office is right there. All of this is for Tommy Norment, to get his attention, to let him know there is a broad cross-section of people who are totally fed up with his inaction.”

While some demonstrators unrolled blankets and laid themselves like dead bodies to represent the deaths they blame on a lack of affordable health care, others stood with signs, some in the shape of tombstones, with messages like “denying healthcare kills people, Senator Norment.”

Among the demonstrators were Mary Tyler. Her brother died of heart disease in 2012 and he didn’t have access to affordable health insurance.

“Nobody deserves that,” she said.

Tyler said a service-driven economy makes the need for affordable healthcare for the area even greater, since many low-level industry jobs don’t have benefits.

“The jobs are not very good and don’t provide benefits,” Tyler said. “People are trying to take care of themselves. Healthcare facilitates people taking care of themselves.”

On Tuesday, the Senate delayed its discussion of the state’s budget, which could include Medicaid expansion, for another week. Norment told reporters that it’s “probable” Medicaid expansion will go through, the Daily Press reported.

Medicaid expansion would provide health-care coverage to approximately 300,000 low-income state residents.

“I think it’s going to happen but I think Tommy Norment is playing games with the process,” John Gregoire said.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

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