By Garrett S. Griffin

Seven clergy and healthcare advocates from Kansas City and St. Louis will journey to Jefferson City today (Thursday, May 18) to be sentenced for trespassing at the state capitol in 2014. They were part of the Medicaid 23, a diverse group of brave activists who sang and prayed in the capitol balcony to urge the Missouri Legislature to expand Medicaid to cover the 300,000 low-income Missourians who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies.

For refusing to leave or allow their voices for poor families stuck in a coverage gap to be silenced, the Medicaid 23 were arrested and in 2016 found guilty of trespassing. Jay Nixon, Missouri governor at the time, offered them pardons. Seven refused the offer.

The seven include CCO Board President Rev. Susan McCann and Rev. Wallace Hartsfield Sr., both of Kansas City. The other five are Rev. Lloyd Fields, Rev. Ester Holzendorf, Rev. Jessie Fisher, and Riccardo Lucas, all of Kansas City, and Rev. Emmet Baker of St. Louis.

“This is about justice,” Reverend Susan McCann said. “Justice for the poor of our state still waiting for their representatives to act. Missouri makes it harder than almost any other state to qualify for Medicaid. While the Legislature delays, Missourians without health insurance die. This is a matter of life and death.”     

Sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today at the Cole County Circuit Court.