JEFFERSON CITY (KSDK) - A rally at the Missouri Capitol Tuesday ended in arrests, after demonstrators took their cause into the Senate gallery. Religious groups from across the state, including St. Louis, were rallying in support of Medicaid expansion. It was a very passionate group that showed up to the Capitol for the rally. They came bearing the message that Medicaid expansion isn't a political issue, it's a moral one.
"We know that something has gone wrong in the people's house!" cried one of the speakers to the enthusiastic crowd.
What's gone wrong, say the demonstrators, is the decision not to expand Medicaid. Because, Missourians like Joan Wilcox say without it, a major accident or health problem could leave them without care.
"It's very scary to think 'Oh my gosh, I might not have an option and I might join the homeless out there,'" Wilcox said.
"We don't need to have our poor citizens dying simply because they can't get Medicaid coverage," said organizer and Pastor Emmett Baker, Jr. of the St. Louis Metro Baptist Association.
Plus, say protesters, the decision not to expand means Missouri is missing out on millions of federal dollars. But, expanding Medicaid means passing Obamacare, and most republicans won't do it, saying it would raise healthcare costs for everyone.
"This is about a mom and a dad trying to budget and raise a family. And that's who it hurts. That's why Obamacare and Medicaid expansion is bad, because ultimately it will raise the cost of healthcare," said Ryan Johnson, President of the Missouri Alliance for Freedom.
But, Tuesday's protesters say expansion would save lives. And that's the message they took from the Capitol Rotunda to the senate gallery, interrupting session. Protesters say Capitol Police asked them to leave, arresting 23 of them. But they say, they're not giving up the fight.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they doubt there will be any serious votes on this issue during this session. So, if Medicaid is expanded, it will have to wait until the next session.