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Luminarias to signify the human impact of Medicaid Expansion at the Capitol on May 16, 2013. Photo courtesy of Progress Missouri.

From Progress Missouri:

Resolute Missourians Illuminate Human Cost of Failure to Expand Medicaid

1,500 luminarias lit at Capitol Thursday night to signify human impact of Medicaid Expansion

Jefferson City – As the General Assembly prepares to finish a legislative session defined by the failure to expand Medicaid for working Missourians, frustrated citizens gathered on the steps of the Capitol to light 1,500 luminarias to represent the lives that would be saved every year if legislators fully expand Medicaid to 138% of the federal poverty level.

“Medicaid Expansion is a moral imperative, and our commitment to this issue will not end with this legislative session,” said Rev. John Bennett of Jefferson City.  “Missourians’ lives are at stake, and we will continue to demand our legislature pass full Medicaid Expansion for our uninsured neighbors and family members.”

“Since our state motto is, ‘The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law,’ shouldn’t we care about the living conditions of our neighbors?” said Rev. Theresa Danieley of St. Louis.”For Christians, I believe the answer is a resounding yes. In Matthew 22, Jesus teaches us that the greatest commandments are to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. In the Episcopal Baptismal Covenant, we promise, with God’s help, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to respect the dignity of every human being, and to strive for justice and peace.”

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found full Medicaid Expansion will save thousands of lives for impacted consumers; in Missouri, 15,000 lives would be spared in the first full decade of expansion.

The state of Missouri has an opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage to Missourians making up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. Federal funding will cover the costs of this expansion for the first three years and the state of Missouri will never pay for more than 10%. Estimates are that this expansion would allow more than 260,000 uninsured Missourians to gain coverage and create more than 24,000 new jobs in Missouri. However, the state legislature must act to extend this critical coverage to Missouri families.