Dear Governor Nixon: During the debate over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we learned many things as a country. Chief among them, in my mind, is that a citizenship without medical coverage is a growing problem, both for the health of our people and for our finances. People should never go bankrupt because they or their children get sick or seriously injured, but every day they do. Every day thousands of Missourians go without necessary health care. Some of them lose their livelihoods and, unable to provide for their families, they turn to the state for help.
Health care is widely regarded as a human right in developed nations, Mr. Governor, and every facet of our society reflects that. Our health care professionals take oaths to practice medicine ethically and put the patient first, to aspire to prevention before cure. All of those ideals are acknowledged in the ACA via free preventative care, rescission bans, and coverage for pre-existing conditions, among other things.
We also have laws that require hospitals to provide medical treatment to everyone who needs it, regardless of citizenship or ability to pay. Every single taxpayer chips in to programs like the VA, Medicare, and Medicaid so that the people who need health care the most–but in most cases are least able to afford it–are able to get the care they need. Responsible employers share the cost of employee health care because they know a healthy worker is a productive one. Good health is necessary to a life in the pursuit of happiness, liberty, and the American dream.
The Affordable Care Act is simply an addendum to this societal norm, this very basic right. A right we all recognize and accept, whether we gain from it politically or not, whether we will admit to it publicly or not.
This is why I’m asking you to take the first step in extending Medicaid to cover hard-working Missourians earning up to 133% of the federal poverty line by including it in your budget. Please sign this state on to the Medicaid expansion so that more Missourians in need of something as basic as medical care can live in good health, keep their jobs and their homes, and provide for their families with dignity. Health care is a human right and Missourians are people too.
Stacy Mergenthal is an activist for progressive causes and voice for the working class. She currently resides in Missouri with her family.