LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Medicaid expansion would help Missouri's citizens

Friday, April 19, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:14 a.m. CDT, Monday, April 22, 2013

I am glad that I was able to be at the Missouri State Capitol Tuesday, April 16, to lobby and then attend the rally for Medicaid expansion in Missouri. There is so much need for increased jobs and to raise Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of federal poverty level, so those poor people/families can get insurance coverage and small community hospitals can stay open and provide vital care and stabilization to those who live far from larger cities. There is also a need to provide access to care for those with mental illness, and these are among just a few of advantages of getting our tax money that we Missourians have paid back into our state.

There were excellent speakers — physicians, heads of small community hospitals, a person with mental illness, faith leaders, police/sheriff officer, Gov. Nixon, and I know I'm missing a few other speakers. However, my state senator from my district, Kurt Schaefer, who is against this, refused to speak to a group of his own constituents who came to his office in support of this. Our legislators are to be there for us, but obviously he is not and doesn't care about his constituents or any of the poor people in his state, even though the citizens of his state in part help to pay for his insurance coverage. It is time to let him and his constituents know that he is not for helping 300,000 Missourians get insurance coverage, 50,000 Missourians with mental illness and substance abuse to be able to have insurance to cover their treatment enabling them to get treatment earlier. I know personally as a nurse and a family member, that a person with mental illness, with continued treatment, can participate in good jobs, participate in the community and be a good taxpaying citizen. Mental illness should not be a stigma; it is a disorder of the brain and needs treatment just like diabetes, heart disease, etc. You need to open your eyes, Senator Schaefer. Remember your constituents can also vote you out of office just as easily as you got in.

Diann Murphy is a Columbia resident.

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