(Photo: Creative Loafing/Joeff Davis)
Thirty-nine protesters from Moral Monday Georgia were arrested Tuesday at the Georgia Capitol. They were protesting a bill that would deny the governor the ability to participate in the Affordable Care Act's, or "Obamacare's," expansion of Medicaid, a government program that provides healthcare to the poor.
"Georgians are standing up to an extreme right-wing agenda in the Georgia Capitol," Moral Monday Georgia co-founder Tim Franzen told Creative Loafing. "Moral Monday is calling for people to come to the Capitol to participate in the spontaneous protests that are breaking out all day."
The Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor, was one of those arrested.
He held a sign quoting King that read: "Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."
The protesters sat in the Georgia Senate gallery and interrupted the proceedings three separate times. Each time, the protesters involved were arrested. After the third interruption, the entire gallery was cleared.
The ACA expanded Medicaid eligibility to include everyone with a household income below 133 percent of the federal poverty line. Due to a Supreme Court decision, states are allowed to opt out of the Medicaid expansion.
Some states, all led by Republicans, have decided they will not participate in the expansion. These Republicans argue that the program will become too costly for their state.
The federal government pays for 100 percent of the expansion in the first year, but states are obligated to pay 10 percent after three years.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) has already decided he will not participate in the Medicaid expansion. The bill being protested would provide the state legislature, rather than Deal or any future governor, with the authority to decide whether or not to participate in the Medicaid expansion.
Moral Monday Georgia describes itself as "a multiracial, multi-issue coalition of citizens working for positive change for the public good," that "seek(s) to contribute to the creation of a more just and peaceful society where dialogue, debate and discussion prevail, and will work to achieve consensus in our group without silencing minority voices."
"Moral Mondays" began last year as protests by a group of politically liberal pastors in North Carolina. Those protests focused on budget cuts for programs for the poor and maintaining access to abortion facilities.