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Town hall meeting held in Joplin to urge action on Medicaid expa - KOAM TV 7

Town hall meeting held in Joplin to urge action on Medicaid expansion

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Many Missouri residents continue to urge action on Medicaid expansion in the state.

It was the topic of a town hall meeting held at The Independent Living Center in Joplin this evening.

"It's very frustrating to not be able to get the healthcare I need," said Arielle Speer, Joplin resident.

Speer, who has had recent kidney problems, falls into the Medicaid gap, meaning she does not qualify for Medicaid, or insurance provided through the Marketplace.

"It's very scary," Speer said. "It's very frightening. And actually right now what's going on with me, if I can't get treatment, it could be very critical."

Speer is one of the 300,000 people across the state who fall into the gap.

Organizers of the town hall meeting hope to encourage lawmakers to take action on closing the coverage gap.

"Our state representatives are going back to the capital after their Spring Break," said Dottie Elbert, Joplin regional organizer for Missouri Health Care for All. "As they go back to work, I hope they realize this important issue, push up their sleeves and do what they can."

If Medicaid is expanded in Missouri, panelists estimate it would save the state about $1 billion over the next 10 years.

"For many of the people who are covered under our current Medicaid program, we are paying 40 percent up to 100 percent," said Jessica Adams, outreach coordinator for Missouri Budget Project. "Under expansion, from the state's general revenue fund, we would only be paying 10 percent of the cost of their care in the out years." 

Panelists say expanding Medicaid this year would result in the federal government paying for 100 percent of the cost of expansion for one year.

Those in attendance at the meeting are hopeful some action will be taken by legislators soon.

"It would be a step in the right direction, in helping a lot of people get the kind of coverage they need," said Chip Hailey, public policy advocate for The Independent Living Center.

"Everyone deserves to have access to affordable healthcare," Speer said.

The group plans to hold additional town hall meetings in the future.

Medicaid has been expanded in 29 states, including The District of Columbia.
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