Written by 3L Emily Rosenfeld
On April 11, SLU LAW students joined more than 40 students from the SLU School of Nursing and the School of Public Health to attend student lobby day in Jefferson City, Mo., on behalf of Medicaid expansion.
We worked with the Missouri Medicaid Coalition and Missouri Health Care for All to raise awareness on the importance of expanding Medicaid during this legislative session. Under the Affordable Care Act, states may expand Medicaid coverage to individuals up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, equal to about $31,800 a year for a family of four or $15,400 a year for a single person.
Students spoke to legislators from districts across the state on the importance of passing Medicaid expansion in Missouri. We brought stories of the everyday people who will directly benefit from Medicaid expansion directly to representatives and senators. We brought stories that represent a cross section of the nearly 300,000 uninsured adults who would be eligible to enroll in the Missouri Medicaid Program (MO Healthnet) under Medicaid expansion.
If Missouri chooses not to expand, however, most of these 300,000 will remain uninsured. In fact, the same day we were in Jefferson City, Governor Jay Nixon spoke in Sedalia, Mo., calling for increased attention to Medicaid expansion. Nixon remarked to the crowd, “Standing still is still moving backwards.”
Nixon was referring to the lack of results from the Missouri General Assembly. According to Families USA, in 2010 more than 26,000 Americans died prematurely due to lack of health coverage. In Missouri, these national figures amount to 461, or nine Missourians every week.
We brought these stories to Jefferson City to increase visibility on an issue that can’t afford to wait any longer. There have been palpable changes in the last few weeks on this issue in Jefferson City. We need to continue to capitalize on this momentum toward full Medicaid expansion.