Medicaid Expansion supporters hold “vigil” in Capitol


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Saying that more than 700 people will die every year if Missouri doesn’t expand Medicaid, the Missouri Medicaid Coalition descended on the Capitol today to hold a “vigil” for the lives lost – complete with candles, prayers and photos of those gone.

The Missouri Medicaid Coalition
The Missouri Medicaid Coalition

“The consequences of this are serious,” said Jen Bersdale, Executive Director Missouri Health Care for All. “People lose their lives, we have one woman here who lost her son because he didn’t have insurance. Now that young man’s daughter will grow up without a daddy.”

Coalition members came with candles and were led in prayer by Deacon Frank Prideaux of St. Cletus Catholic Church in St. Charles. The group of about 100 walked in a somber line to offices of Republicans currently opposed to expansion, including House Speaker Tim Jones, Senate Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, and Senators Rob Schaaf, Kurt Schaefer, John Lamping and Ed Emery.

“This is about more than politics,” Bersdale said. “Every year that we don’t do this we lose money, sure, but we lose real lives too. And that should be more important than politics.”

The coalition held signs featuring the faces of men and women who died without health insurance. Bersdale said the names were gathered simply from friends and families within the organization. Many of the stories featured citizens that did not qualify for Medicaid and made too little to afford insurance. In many examples, the lack of access to preventative medicines lead to a terminal diagnosis.