Medicaid advocates call on legislators to close coverage gap, pass expansion in 2015

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Medicaid Rally
COVERAGE GAP: The Rev. Martin Rafanan (speaking), co-chair of the St. Louis Jobs with Justice Workers’ Rights Board, was among several dozen Medicaid expansions advocates who converged on Jefferson City last week to urge lawmakers to expand Medicaid eligibility for almost 300,000 Missourians.

Jefferson City – Faith and community leaders, labor leaders and concerned citizens descended on the state Capitol to urge lawmakers to close the health insurance coverage gap by expanding Medicaid eligibility for almost 300,000 Missourians.

Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature has balked at the idea of expanding Medicaid as outlined in the federal health care law.

Gathering at the Capitol Plaza Hotel – the same location as the Governor’s prayer breakfast – dozens of supporters stood out in the freezing cold to call on the Missouri Legislature to close the Medicaid gap and expand Medicaid now. The Rev. Martin Rafanan, co-chair of the St. Louis Jobs with Justice Workers’ Rights Board, and Rhonda Perry of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center were among those who spoke at the rally.

Faith leaders declared Medicaid expansion a moral issue and a moral imperative for the Missouri legislature.

DYING FOR LACK OF COVERAGE

Rev. Emmett Baker, of Beth-El Baptist Church in St. Louis, shared the story of his daughter who worked a minimum wage job that did not give enough hours to qualify for benefits, but who earned too much to receive Medicaid in Missouri.

Rev. Baker’s daughter died as a result of not having affordable access to healthcare.

“I know that there will be other parents burying their child and seeing loved ones suffer needlessly,” Rev. Baker said, telling legislators it was time to show Missourians their moral convictions.

“Show us that you care that hospitals, clinics and ambulance services are being cut back and denied to those in our rural areas,” Rev. Baker said. “Show us that you know that Missouri lives matter. Show us before more lives are lost. Show us by voting to pass Medicaid expansion now!”

LIVES, NOT POLITICS

Rev. Doyle Sager, of the First Baptist Church in Jefferson City, called on legislators who work for Missouri taxpayers and all have health insurance, to wake up to the suffering of Missourians who don’t have access to health care.

“Every day our lawmakers do not act for Medicaid expansion, they have made a moral choice – a choice to deny dignity, health and life to the most vulnerable in Missouri,” Rev. Sager said. “This is not a political game – lives are at stake!”

WORKERS FALL THROUGH THE GAP

Approximately 300,000 Missourians fall in the “Medicaid coverage gap,” where they make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to qualify for subsidies offered by the Affordable Care Act.

Since 2013, a diverse group of faith, community, labor, rural, health and youth groups have advocated for Medicaid expansion through the Missouri Medicaid coalition.

For more information, visit www.momedicaidcoalition.org.

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