Springfield Activist for Medicaid Expansion ‘Optimistic’ About Changing Perception

Sep 4, 2019

Healthcare for Missouri is a new group that wants to put Medicaid expansion on the 2020 ballot. 

When the US Supreme Court ruled on Obamacare, the justices kept most of the Affordable Care Act—but they left one part optional for each state to decide:   whether to expand Medicaid to include more people. Medicaid is the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

So far, Missouri’s Republican-led legislature has not expanded the program in the Show-Me State, even though the federal government would pay for the majority of the cost. 

Now, as the 2020 election gets closer, groups like Healthcare for Missouri are organizing to gather signatures to take Medicaid expansion to Missouri voters.

Rebecca Johnston, the group’s grassroots organizer in Springfield, says Missouri’s income eligibility levels for Medicaid are extremely low.

“A single parent with one kid cannot earn more than $381 a month and qualify for Medicaid. So we really want to raise that eligibility so it’s more attainable for folks to get the healthcare that they need,” says Johnston.

Johnston says even though she’s based in a Republican-heavy corner of the state, she’s optimistic. She plans to spread the message of how expanding Medicaid would help area hospitals and she says she’ll tell the personal stories of people whose lives would improve. 

The new group has joined hands with the group Missouri Health Care for All (MHCFA) in a coalition, and they are seeking at least 172,000 signatures to get the issue on the ballot.

Missouri has removed around 120,000 people from the state Medicaid rolls since the beginning of 2018.  Most of those people removed have been children.  KSMU reached out to the Greene County Republicans for comment on the ballot issue but did not hear back by our deadline.  Also, our interview requests to Todd Richardson, the director of Missouri’s Medicaid program, MO Healthnet, on the issue of Medicaid eligibility, were declined.