Session may be ending this week; however, the fight for Medicaid expansion is not. Hundreds returned for a Medicaid expansion Day of Action at the Capitol on Wednesday, May 13. ”Today is the day we work in unity for our community,” Bishop Tony R. Caldwell said to the crowd outside the Capitol. “And our community is Missouri.”
By Tony Brown
As rural hospitals struggle to survive, such institutions are working to introduce strategies that allow them to cut costs while maintaining high levels of patient care.
It’s a big challenge, but one that Jon Doolittle, regional president of Northwest Medical Center in Albany, says smaller hospitals are uniquely qualified to meet because of the close relationships between local healthcare providers and those they serve.
"We know that uninsured people live sicker and die younger, and studies show that closing the coverage gap would save the lives of 700 Missourians every year. With lives on the line, our state has a moral imperative to close the coverage gap this year," says Jen Bersdale, Executive Director of Missouri Health Care for All.
A press conference highlighting the negative impact on St. Francois County without Medicaid expansion brought out community leaders who urged Missouri legislators to act.
Wildman said the legislature's failure to expand Medicaid is costing hospitals like Pemiscot Memorial in Hayti millions. The hospital has closed its obstetrics department and sends patients to nearby hospitals at Kennett and Blytheville. "Both Pemiscot and Dunklin Counties are seeing an increase in infant mortality rates because the people have no access to insurance coverage," Wildman argued.
Missouri has declined to expand the state's Medicaid program, meaning Gateway is the only insurance option for those who make too much for Medicaid but not enough to buy private insurance.
Gateway is funded on a year-to-year basis with mostly federal dollars. Its funding has twice been extended for another year. Unless extended again, it will run out of money at the end of this year.
Rather than have to face their passionate constituents, our senators hid in their offices and delayed going into session by nearly an hour and a half to avoid us. They are cowards and bullies.