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Southwest Missouri residents hold vigil for Medicaid expansion - KOAM TV 7

Southwest Missouri residents hold vigil for Medicaid expansion

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Meet Arielle Speer. A mother, student, worker and one of thousands in Missouri who lacks affordable heath care coverage.

"I know so many people here that are single struggling mothers like myself, and fathers, and they don't know what to do. They are university students like I am. They work jobs. Some of them work two to three jobs, and still they can't get insurance."

Speer falls in what many call a coverage gap in the state. She earns too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to earn medical subsidies.  

This scares her for her sons, one of whom is autistic.

"If something were to happen to me and I couldn't get the medicine I needed, or the care, there would be no one there to take care of him."

Speer is advocating for the expansion of Medicaid in Missouri, as is Dottie Elbert.

"There's a lot of people that fall in the coverage gap and we want our legislatures to know we do want it, we do need it," said Elbert of Missouri Health Care for All.

On Tuesday, the women gathered in Joplin with others who share their mission, holding a candlelight vigil in hopes to spread awareness.

"We need to get the word and message out there," said Amanda Wall. "They need the Medicaid. They need the insurance. We need our medication, plain and simple."

"We we are currently doing is not working," said Rev. J. Friedel of St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church. "And because it's not working, we have to try something else. We have got to do something else."

"That is what we need to do is care for our fellow man," said Rick Wiseman of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 

Some in attendance said the need for medicaid expansion is more than a health care issue, but a basic human right.  

Speer hopes that ultimately it will spark more attention from legislators.  

"I would like them to, if they could, come spend a day with me and to see what I do, to see how hard I work, to see how I'm trying, to see how well I do in school and then to tell me that I don't deserve to have medical care or that I'm not trying."


The legislative session begins January 7 in Jefferson City. Some who attended the vigil plan to head there soon to lobby for medicaid expansion


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