Protesters have delayed the start of business for the Missouri Senate, parading the halls of the state Capitol calling for expansion of Medicaid eligibility.
The legislature’s spring break, recognized as the halfway point of the year’s session, begins at the close of business today.
Echo Garrett of Cape Girardeau was one of the protesters at the Capitol this morning. She says she falls into the current coverage gap and needs treatment for arthritic knees.
“An 11-minute visit with a specialist was $383-dollars. $383-dollars for somebody that is making $7.50 an hour,” said Garrett.
John Antonich of Pevely says his daughter and her husband fall into the coverage gap, even though their seven children do not.
“A couple of weeks ago I was here and I lobbied some of my legislators from Jefferson County,” said Antonich. “A couple of them told me they’re sympathetic, they’re behind us, they see the need when they go home every weekend, but yet for fear of crossing the party line they’re not going to do anything.”
The Republican supermajority in the state legislature opposes out-and-out expansion of eligibility using federal dollars, saying it would extend the federal debt. Some Republicans in the House have advocated Medicaid reform tied to expansion, but some Senate Republicans said at the beginning of the session they would block any such effort.
Protesters supporting Medicaid expansion have previously disrupted the Missouri legislature, including on the opening day of the session in January. The Senate pushed back its start of business today while the protests continued in the halls of the Capitol.