Last week, I attended the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance conference with individuals and organizations that are trying to influence health policy primarily for the underserved. We celebrated some nice wins this year including improving health benefits for foster children and increasing funding for mental health.
Despite these policy wins, this last year has been a hard time for health advocates in Missouri. In November voters decided not to increase the cigarette tax in Missouri and this spring the legislature decided against expanding Medicaid.
Now more than ever health advocates need to become informed, persistent and courteous advocates full of HOPE. This summer legislative leaders are announcing special committees who will study various ways to possibly expand Medicaid in Missouri and hopefully have policy recommendations to present to the Missouri House and Senate in January 2014.
Medicaid expansion is a key ingredient to the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Without this expansion of Medicaid, Missouri is leaving billions of dollars of federal money on the table and hundreds of thousands of Missourians will continue to be uninsured.
President Obama defined HOPE in this way:
“HOPE is not blind optimism.
It is not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path.
It is not sitting on the sidelines or shrinking from a fight.
HOPE is that thing inside of us that insists, despite evidence of the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, work for it, and fight for it.”
Advocates – this is our time. This is a team effort. We must seize the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve. Today, we need to operate in a culture of HOPE!