KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Health care advocates championing for lower-income residents in Missouri saw an end to their battle Tuesday, as constituents voted to expand Medicaid in the state.
Advocates like Dr. Vernon Howard, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) of Greater Kansas City and senior pastor of St. Mark Union Church, were involved in the long struggle. Howard said the passage of Medicaid expansion in Missouri was worth the long battle.
"Oh absolutely it's worth it; there's no doubt about it," he said.
Howard was among 300 demonstrators in 2014 at the State Capitol in Jefferson City, demanding lawmakers provide health care for the poor and the working poor. He was among the 23 people arrested that day for refusing to leave the Capitol. The group later became known as the Medicaid 23.
Though it took six years, he said Tuesday's victory is still sweet because medical care is on its way for children, veterans, mothers and fathers.
"That's how we fight crime, that's how we fight violence, that's how we fight homicides," Howard said, "by insisting that our basic structures provide basic needs for people in fairness."
Kansas City Care Clinic CEO Wil Franklin also endorsed the Yes on 2, Healthcare for Missouri campaign. He said his clinic is one of many that will gain financial stability because more clients will be able to receive Medicaid.
"A core piece of our service is doing what we call navigation, helping people find opportunities to find either coverage or some type of care," Franklin said.
Franklin is prepared to add staff, if necessary, to help patients determine if they are eligible for Medicaid and how to apply.
"We want to make sure that people understand that it isn't just applying effectively, but it's also re-enrolling and completing that paperwork." Franklin said.