A candlelight vigil will be held Monday, April 20, from 8-9:45 pm at the Phelps County Courthouse highlighting the consequences of legislative inaction on Medicaid, and urging Missouri legislators to expand Medicaid before the legislative session ends.

Rolla, MO: Community leaders will hold a candlelight vigil highlighting the consequences of legislative inaction on Medicaid, and urging Missouri legislators to expand Medicaid before the legislative session ends on May 15.

WHAT:                 Press conference and luminary display highlighting the consequences of inaction on Medicaid Expansion

WHEN:                                 Monday, April 20, 8:00-9:45 pm

WHERE:               Phelps County Courthouse

                                200 N. Main St.

                                Rolla, MO 65401

WHY:                    Southwest Missouri communities will suffer without Medicaid Expansion

WHO:                   Community members and leaders will speak in support of expanding Medicaid

VISUALS:             Community members holding candles and signs in support of closing the coverage gap

                                Speakers will discuss the importance of closing the coverage gap for Phelps County.

“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.

Crystal Brigman Mahaney, Statewide Grassroots Organizer with Missouri Health Care for All remarks, “Phelps County residents continue to urge Senator Dan Brown to do the right thing and prioritize people over politics. We look to him to move this bipartisan issue forward and work to expand Medicaid with his colleagues in these final weeks of session.”

Amy Beechner-McCarthy, CEO of Your Community Health Center in Rolla, says, “I have great faith that we will eventually make the right and just decision to expand Medicaid. My only regret is that it might be too late for some members of our community. By not expanding Medicaid we are placing more than 8,000 moms, dads, grandparents, sisters, and brothers in our community in the no-win situation of being without health care. We are also losing millions of dollars by not expanding this important safety net. Many people in our community may not realize that there really are no health insurance options for persons who make less than federal poverty level. Currently a person must first care for a child under the age of 18 and then they must earn less than $3,000 a YEAR to even be eligible for Medicaid coverage. The great State of Missouri can say yes to Medicaid expansion and we should.”

Approximately 300,000 Missourians fall in the ‘Medicaid coverage gap’ where they make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to qualify for subsidies offered by the Affordable Care Act. Missouri currently has one of the lowest eligibility rates in the country for Medicaid.  Under today’s rules, a single mother of two can’t qualify for basic health care through Medicaid if she makes anything more than $3,504 per year – just 18% of the poverty line.

“Medicaid expansion will save the state money and close the coverage gap for our hard working, uninsured neighbors. It will create jobs and strengthen our communities, especially in rural Missouri,” said Michelle Trupiano, Director of the Missouri Medicaid Coalition.

There is bipartisan support for Medicaid expansion in Missouri. Legislators in the Missouri House and Senate have sponsored multiple bills that would provide insurance to Missourians in the Coverage Gap through an expanded Medicaid program. The last day of the Missouri Legislative session is May 15.