We, the citizens of Missouri, fought hard to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. I was one of the 23 people known as the Medicaid 23 who were arrested, tried, and convicted for making too much noise about it one day in the Missouri Senate. Exhortations, demonstrations, and civil disobedience didn’t move the Republican reactionaries running the state legislature, so the citizens collected signatures and had it placed on the ballot. It passed.
But the Republican Party has become so toxic, mean, and anti-democratic that Missouri Republican legislators are refusing to fund health care for our fellow human beings too poor to obtain it under the Affordable Care Act but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. “The House Budget Committee voted along party lines not to pass a bill allowing Missouri to spend $130 million in state funds and $1.6 billion in federal money to pay for the program’s expansion” (https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article250170945.html).
There is no doubt that the white male, racist, rural, religious-fanatic, controlled legislature is out of step with the majority of Missourians. However, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and money to keep urban voters at a disadvantage. A feckless Democratic Party doesn’t help matters much either.
The Medicaid 23
We were a group of community activists who met at Reverend Hartzfeld’s Missionary Baptist Chruch on Linwood Boulevard. Prior to his death a few months ago, Reverend Hartzfeld was the patriarch of the Kansas City African American community. I was honored to be included in the group that decided that decided to carry out a protest at the state senate to express our outrage over the lack of medical care for poor people – for no other reason than they are poor.
Legislators would not meet with us or even respond to our letters, emails, and phone calls. Se we went to the capitol to get their attention. We demonstrated in the gallery while the senate was in session. We were told to shut up and we didn’t. We were arrested, and, after a three day trial, convicted by a white jury in the middle of Missouri. Tony Messenger wrote this in the St. Louis Post Dispatch: “This trial has the foul odor of history.”
Here is a picture of the “criminal” Medicaid 23:
The tall young white man in the front row was one of our lawyers. He is also a Republican in the Missouri House of Representatives. He fought hard for us and was also outraged by our arrest. Reverend Hartzfeld is the man with the cane in the middle of the front row.