No fine, no jail time. After three long years, the final seven members of the Medicaid 23 listened closely to the brief words of a stoic Cole County judge. To the surprise of the defendants, their allies, and even their lawyers, the judge ruled out a monetary penalty: "Even a fine of one dollar would be excessive."
Riccardo Lucas and Revs. Susan McCann, Wallace Hartsfield, Lloyd Fields, Ester Holzendorf, and Emmet Baker were given what amounts to one year unsupervised probation. Reverend Jessie Fisher's case will be concluded later.
After the sentencing, Reverend Hartsfield led the group in prayer.
Now is the time to reflect on the work that still needs to be done to broaden healthcare access for all people. The Medicaid 23 were arrested while calling on the Missouri Legislature to expand Medicaid to cover 300,000 low-income Missourians who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies. After three years, this problem persists. It is estimated that 700 Missourians will die each year without Medicaid expansion.
What can you do to help?
We encourage you to contact your Missouri representatives in Jefferson City to make your voice heard on this issue. A similar fight over Medicaid expansion is close to victory in Kansas, so we encourage Kansans to also contact your representatives in Topeka. Tell them poverty should not be a death sentence.
It is also vital in this moment to urge our U.S. Senators to reject the American Health Care Act. As we work for Medicaid expansion, we must remember the veryexistence of Medicaid is threatened. The AHCA would slash hundreds of billions from healthcare for the poor, along with other immoral consequences.
Finally, we invite you to read and share an important interview on CCO's website. We spoke with Phil Glynn, President of Travois in Kansas City, on why his small business provides its workers a living wage, healthcare, higher education assistance, and even childcare, and why he personally thinks you should vote YES on the $15 minimum wage question on Kansas City's August ballot.
Thank you for all you do to create a better world. Have a great week!