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Meet Yolanda Young, Discuss Medicaid in Missouri and More

Ms. Young is running for House District 22 this November

Annual Chili Dinner and Wiggins Fund Drive Date Set

Each fall, we host our Chili Dinner with our friends in organized labor.  Save the date for OCTOBER 25 hosted again by our Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 8. We are happy to feature Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and County Legislator Jalen Anderson as we raise funds to support the JCDC staff position, which sets Jackson County apart from other Democratic committees in the state. We hope to see you there but if you can't attend:  Click here to make a recurring or one time donation.

 

Rep. Judy Morgan Discusses Medicaid Access

One of the most significant things to happen around Missouri government in the past year is the revelation that 130,000 people have been kicked off Medicaid since January 2018, 100,000 of which are children.  Rep. Morgan was recently discussing this on KCUR's Up to Date show.

Minority Leader Crystal Quade has been shouting about the Medicaid debacle since last winter.  Earlier in the summer she sent a letter to our House Speaker, Elijah Haahr, asking him to appoint a special committee to investigate this matter and explore solutions - in my opinion, a reasonable and straight-forward request that the Speaker should have honored.  
 
Speaker Haahr declined to take  action on Leader Quade's request. So she took matters into her own hands and held a public meeting last Thursday at the Capitol, giving stakeholders a chance to tell their side of the story.
 
I attended that public meeting in Jefferson City and we heard from individuals and organizations who have dealt with this issue.  Here's the main takeaways on the scope of this problem.
 
  • Although the Department of Social Services (DSS) justified the drop in Medicaid enrollment on an improving economy in MO, various witnesses at the public meeting disputed that theory.  They argued that if the economy was improving,  similar drops in food stamps and temporary cash assistance to families would be occurring and that's not the case. 
  • In addition, I asked one witness if the DSS had offered any data to back up its claim on an improving economy.  His answer - No.
  • The decline in the numbers of folks on Medicaid started with implementation of a new computer system - MEDES.  The new system wasn't checking for federal SNAP (food stamp) eligibility and didn't automatically update addresses, as it had in the past.
  • The mailed renewal notifications weren't being timely distributed and some recipients never received the notices.  
  • Several witnesses described the Medicaid application forms as too lengthy and definitely not user-friendly.
  • Many families didn't discover that their children had lost Medicaid coverage until they showed up at the doctor's office or the pharmacist.  
  • When folks tried to re-enroll, they had  to contact the call centers, where they often waited long periods to talk to someone. In two-thirds of the calls, they were deflected, meaning that the caller was cut off and had to  start over.

 

I want to share a couple of the compelling stories we heard at the public meeting. One involved a parent who took  Mario, her ten-year old son, to the doctor for ringworm.  At the doctor's office  she discovered that her son no longer had Medicaid coverage, resulting in  the doctor not treating her son's ringworm.  And the school wouldn't allow Mario to come back  until he was cleared by the doctor.

 

For several weeks the mom tried unsuccessfully to contact the call center.  Finally she got in touch with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and they assisted her in clearing up the matter.  In the meantime, her son had missed almost a month of school.  That's unconscionable!  

 

We also heard from Ken Horgan, an older gentleman who lives in Mountain View in the West Plains area.  He had driven about three hours  from his home to attend the public meeting.  Mr. Horgan hadn't originally planned on speaking, but I'm sure glad that he did.

 

In a low-key, but  impassioned manner,  Mr. Horgan told us that he lives in one of the poorest parts in our state.  He lamented the closing  of  hospitals in rural Missouri in recent years (nine of them).  
 
Mr. Horgan shared with us how his community has implemented  free medical and dental clinics.  I asked him how the clinics were financed.  His answer -  everyone who provides services at the clinics are volunteers, except for the Director's position.  In fact, Mr.Horgan and his wife volunteer at the medical clinic.

 

The clinics are open one day a week - on Mondays.  But Mr. Horgan said that folks start lining up at 3;00  p.m. in the afternoon, waiting for the doors to open at 5:00 p.m. However, the waiting lists are long with 2,000 people signed up  for tooth extractions at the dental clinic.   
 
Mr. Horgan obviously cared deeply about the people in his community.  Here's how he viewed the General Assembly in his own words:  "It seems like the legislature in Missouri is doing everything to help those who are already doing just fine and leaving out all the poor people who are struggling."  (As reported on KSPR 33.)
 
Twice during the public meeting Rep. Peter Merideth asked if anyone from the Department of Social Services was in attendance.  Regrettably they weren't. How unfortunate as they may have gained some insight into this matter.
 
On a positive note  those who are assisting people who are kicked off their Medicaid, like Legal Aid and individual state legislators, complimented the Department of Social Services in one area.  When they intervene, DSS is working quickly to reinstate the health care services to the Medicaid recipients.
 
I just read a recent survey of health care providers conducted by Kids Win Missouri, Missouri Budget Project and the Missouri Coalition of Children's Agencies.  Results of that survey verified what various witnesses had told us at the public meeting including:
 
  • Eighty-seven percent of patients who lost Medicaid still met income eligibility requirements, but lost coverage due solely to challenges in the renewal process and 
  • Over eighty-four percent were unaware of the coverage loss until scheduling or attending an appointment.

Meet Yolanda Young, Candidate for House District 22

A Jackson County resident since the 1980s, Yolanda Young has worked with community members, city officials, the KCPD and others to transform an area that many had written off as a lost cause. When others looked at Kansas City’s Ivanhoe Neighborhood and simply saw a high-crime area filled with abandoned houses and lots, Young saw an opportunity for growth and change. Joined with her husband Alan, Young has spent more than 30 years building relationships with residents in order to address their concerns and inspire change on the grassroots level. Among other efforts, Young established block clubs, planned and orchestrated neighborhood cleanups, and formed committees to address community needs. 
She has helped to develop over a dozen programs and initiatives for local families, youth, and seniors in an effort to improve overall health and well-being. Her leadership in the neighborhood and for the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council has brought about a reduction in the crime rate and an increase in resident engagement. Furthering her desire to improve the health and well-being of the community, Young established an urban family farm – improving the area’s food desert status and providing residents with fresh, home-grown produce at the neighborhood farmer’s market. 

As the representative for Missouri’s 22nd district, Yolanda will continue to focus on the people of Kansas City, working to increase economic growth, provide better opportunities for education and civic engagement, and improve access to healthcare and other resources needed in underserved communities.

Upcoming Club Meetings and Events:

  • United Eastern Democrats: Bi-monthly meeting Wednesday September 25 at Courthouse Exchange on the Independence Square. Social hour at 6pm, meeting at 7pm.  Guest speaker, State Representative Greg Razer.

    Greg Razer for State Senate Kickoff: Thursday September 26th, 5:30-7:30 at Ollie's Local (3044 Gillham Rd. KCMO).

  • Greater Kansas City Women's Political Caucus: 28th Annual Torch Dinner.  September 27, 6:00-9:00pm. Click here to purchase tickets and attend this great event: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2019-torch-dinner-forward-to-2020-tickets-69155095753?aff=ebdssbeac
  • 13th Annual City Council Cancer Benefit: Join current and past members of the Kansas City Council along with hundreds of supporters as they hold another wonderful event benefiting cancer research Wednesday October 23rd.  Final details to come. Check here for more updates.