|JEFFERSON CITY-- Over 150 advocates of Medicaid expansion returned to the Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, to build on the groundswell efforts to close the Medicaid coverage gap. Health care providers traveled from Joplin, St Joseph, St Louis, Cape Girardeau, Kansas City, Jefferson County and Springfield. Initially, individuals walked through the Capitol hallways holding signs-- “Doctors for Medicaid expansion” and “Have the debate” and afterwards, met with key legislators. Following Lobby Day events, the coalition held a press conference to further advance their cause.
Health care providers came to the Capitol because they’ve seen uninsured Missourians suffer, and even die, without affordable access to health care.
Speakers included (in order of presentation): Dr. Ed Weisbart, a lifelong physician, St Louis County; Dola Flake from Joplin Community Clinic; Sagar Mehta , a WUSTL medical student; Karen Wright, a lifelong healthcare provider from Kansas City; Dr. Bridget Early, a family physician from Columbia and Rev. Artis Taylor, pastor at the True Vine Missionary Baptist Church.
“As a physician, I can tell you first hand, that there are Missourians who are sick, in pain, and will die too soon because they lack affordable health care," Early said. "For the last two years, the Missouri legislature has missed the opportunity to help these people by failing to expand Medicaid and create access to affordable health coverage to 300,000 Missourians.”
Over 1,000 Missouri organizations publicly support Medicaid expansion. Health care providers, uninsured Missourians, and community leaders from various background urge Missouri legislators to debate the issue and expand Medicaid this session. Studies have documented that expanding Medicaid (or “closing the coverage gap”) will have the greatest impact on rural Missourians, communities and hospitals.
Since 2013, the Missouri Medicaid Coalition-- comprised of a large diversity of stakeholders (health, rural, youth, labor, faith, and business) have advocated for the expansion of Medicaid.