JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Advocates for Medicaid expansion filled Missouri capitol halls again today, handing out “death certificates” to lawmakers opposing Medicaid expansion as called for in the Affordable Care Act.
Advocates “death certificates” cite a long-used statistic from expansion advocates that roughly 700 Missourians die annually because Medicaid has not expanded in the state and they lack adequate health coverage.
About 150 citizens from around the state filled the halls with signs demanding lawmakers “fix the coverage gap” before filing into a press conference later in the day. Several speakers addressed the audience about the need for expansion, which has been politically toxic in Missouri.
“Some people say that nobody will die if we don’t expand Medicaid,” Dr. Ed Weisbart, a retired physician, said. “To those people I say, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Some people call this politics, I call it murder.”
Supporters of expansion brought several speakers to the capitol including Dola Flake from the Joplin Community Clinic, Sagar Mehta, a Washington University Medical Student, Karen Wright, a healthcare provider in Kansas City, Dr. Bridget Early, a Columbia physician, and Artis Taylor, a pastor at True Vine Missionary Baptist Church.
Medicaid expansion was called a “non-starter” by senate leadership early during the legislative session, and House leadership has shown no signs of taking up the issue. Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican, has been the most vocal conservative lawmaker to support expansion, and recently filed legislation to expand Medicaid as a block grant program.
Silvey’s bill has been referred to a senate committee, but there has not been a public hearing scheduled yet.