More than 200,000 Missouri workers are in the “coverage gap,” unable to afford insurance through the Marketplace of the Affordable Care Act and unable to qualify for Medicaid, Missouri’s safety net insurance coverage. If you are unfamiliar with Medicaid, it is a health care program that assists families or individuals with low-incomes in paying for doctor visits, hospital stays, long-term medical and custodial care costs, and more.
Medicaid is a joint program, funded primarily by the federal government but run by the state of Missouri. Our General Assembly has repeatedly refused to expand income eligibility guidelines for the Medicaid program, even though Missouri would have a much better cost-sharing arrangement with the federal government if we chose to do so. Several rural hospitals have closed because their leadership could not find a way to cope with the volume of uncompensated care their institutions faced, given the refusal of House and Senate leaders to address this pressing state need.
Presently, a single parent with one child cannot make more than $381 A MONTH and still qualify for Medicaid coverage in Missouri. It is an outrage that our neighbors, like Sarah, LaKisha, and Louis in this video, are currently uninsured and caught in the coverage gap.
I understand the pain that these families are going through in a very personal way.My Grandpa Mott died of cancer just before I turned ten years old due to inability to afford health care. A fluorspar miner (in a non-union mine) and subsistence farmer, Grandpa developed a spot on his ear, which was not surprising since he was always out plowing or feeding cattle in the bright sunshine and had that Celtic skin that burns so easily. He avoided a doctor’s office visit for as long as he could to avoid the expense. This was just before Medicare was enacted, so seniors did not have a safety net. In time, it was clear that he had to see a doctor, and he received a cancer diagnosis. He had waited too long to seek care, worsening the odds of his survival. He was a wonderful grandfather, and his death was a major event in making me the social justice advocate that I am today.
No one should have to choose between health care and other needs like food, rent, and child care. That’s why the Board of Directors of Empower Missouri has voted for our organization to become a part of an effort to gather signatures for a Medicaid Expansion ballot initiative. If we are successful, Missourians will have the opportunity to vote in 2020 to expand Medicaid to those in the coverage gap – just as we voted to raise the minimum wage and to enact the CLEAN government reforms of 2018.
Can we count on you to join us? Sign-up here to join the “Healthcare for Missouri” campaign. When you sign up, the grassroots organization that is spearheading the effort will follow-up with training materials and information about upcoming signature gathering opportunities in your area.
I hope you, like me, are committed to a national health plan with everyone in and nobody out. Until we make that happen by persistent organizing and advocacy, we must insist that Missouri do right by our neighbors who work hard, but who fall in the coverage gap. Won’t you join the campaign to make affordable health care a reality for these neighbors in the next election cycle?