This past Tuesday, I joined about a dozen people from around the state for a social justice lobby day with Missouri Medicaid Coalition. I had to ask myself what has changed since last year when my own state senator, Ryan Silvey, quickly told me that he was against Medicaid expansion. He thought putting more people on Medicaid will come at the expense of Missouri’s schools, colleges and universities. Funding education more strongly was more important to him than Medicaid expansion. Missouri Medicaid Coalition encouraged us to say providing health coverage through Medicaid brings in guaranteed revenue to Missouri, almost $2 Billion a year in federal funds. Expanding Medicaid makes our economy stronger and is a budget win. Senator Silvey is known to be knowledgeable in appropriations and preparing sound budgets. Since last year, he has changed his stance.
This year, Senator Silvey had the courage to challenge his fellow Republicans to accept federal funds for Medicaid expansion provided that some reforms and amendments were attached to it. According to Missouri Medicaid Coalition, this was a step in the right direction and they praised Senator Silvey for his new position on this issue. Part of our lobbying agenda for the day was to thank him for his hard work. However, it is still going to be an uphill battle to get Medicaid expansion passed this year since five Republicans are prepared to kill the bill via filibuster. Those lobbying for Medicaid expansion from a social justice perspective continue to speak on behalf of the voiceless. We believe Medicaid expansion is desperately needed for the working poor, the mentally ill, students, people with disabilities and children.
Daryl Charron