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Medicaid Expansion Issues Brought to Lawmakers' Attention

Teddy Nykiel

Residents from across Missouri attended a press conference at the Missouri State Capitol on Wednesday to discuss the possibilities of Medicaid expansion in the state.

Five panelists led the conference and told their stories about being a part of the coverage gap. This term describes the situation of people who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but don’t earn enough money to pay for health insurance or qualify for incentives through the Affordable Care Act.

Daisy Ramirez, 25, was one of the five panelists. She hasn’t had health insurance since 2009, but she has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and hyperthyroidism. All of these conditions are painful, but she says she can’t afford the adequate medicine to treat the pain.

“Basically, there’s no way to treat my pain or anything. I would always buy over the counter medication, but after a while, your body gets so used to it that it doesn’t work anymore. The pain just keeps going,” Ramirez said.

In 2012, she was taken to the hospital as a result of stomach pains. Ramirez later found out that her gall bladder was infected, and the proper treatment would require surgery and an extended stay at the hospital.

“I was terrified of going because I knew I couldn’t pay for it. I work part-time. I don’t make enough money to pay for everything,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez was able to receive the proper treatment. However, she said she still remains constantly in pain.

According to Rebecca Gorley, the spokesperson for the Missouri Medicaid Coalition, there are over 300,000 Missourians who are in a similar situation to Ramirez. The organization has been working toward expanding Medicaid for Missourians since 2013.

Gorley and her team have worked to push for Medicaid expansion. Despite pushes from the Governor and other Democrats, the Republican controlled legislature has now gone two legislative sessions without expanding Medicaid, which would cover the gap.

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