JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Dozens of lawmakers and advocates alike gathered at the Capitol Tuesday to voice their support for full Medicaid funding.
Several House Democrats assembled at the rally in support of Medicaid funding. Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus and a member of the House Budget Committee, discussed the importance of affordable health care and decried the actions of lawmakers in the majority party.
“I am disappointed that my colleagues across the aisle ignored the needs of so many of their fellow citizens, and I am disgusted that they refused to listen to the will of Missourians,” she said. “A lot of people have to decide between buying their diabetes medicine or food. How do you pick between those?”
Democratic members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where an effort to fund Medicaid expansion failed last week, addressed the assembly as well.
“Every single one of us, elected officials and the crowd alike, have made an oath to uphold the constitution,” Sen. Brian Williams said. “I know there are hundreds and thousands of men and women that go to work every single day to support their families, and they deserve to have access to health care. We need to make sure we stand together.”
Beyond legislators, other speakers discussed the call for health care, with one speaker describing her difficulty navigating Type II diabetes without coverage and another discussing the struggle patients encountered during a long career in health care. Other speakers included Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel Jr. and Rev. Susan Sneed of Metropolitan Congregations United.
The House Budget Committee voted down a proposed fund to expand the program last month along party lines, and efforts to include expansion on the House floor were unsuccessful. This year’s budget package was then delivered to the Senate, where the Appropriations Committee split down the middle on another funding proposal, killing it. The upper chamber is expected to take up the budget Wednesday.
Opponents argue expanding coverage would come at a cost to taxpayers, with some pointing to the lack of a funding source in the ballot language as evidence that the measure violated the Missouri constitution, allowing the legislature to avoid funding it.
Missourians voted to become the 38th state to expand its Medicaid program last August, moving to cover more than 200,000 people who earn less than $18,000 a year. The change has an effective date of July 1.
The House approved another budget package Tuesday, funding various improvement projects across the state.