Rev. Dr. John H. Bennett
I commend Joe Gamm for his recent excellent articles on poverty in Missouri (5/19 and 6/2) which revealed that the poverty rate for Missouri is 14 percent, with a child poverty rate at 19.2 percent (2018 Missouri Poverty Report). The report, a biannual research study prepared by Missourians to End Poverty, indicates that 826,358 Missourians are at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level of which 260,867 are children.
This unfortunate situation is compounded by the devastation of tornadoes and floods which have a disproportionate impact on impoverished communities. We are indebted to the agencies which are addressing the needs of those most severely affected including Catholic Charities, Central Missouri Community Action, Common Ground, Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, the Unmet Needs Committee of the United Way, the Salvation Army and many local congregations.
The long term health needs of most of the disaster's victim will unfortunately be impacted by the fact that Missouri is one of only 14 states that have not expanded Medicaid because the states that did take advantage of this provision of the Affordable Care Act have decidedly better health outcomes than the recalcitrant states. The Missouri Legislature did a grave disservice to the people of Missouri by refusing to approve, or even legitimately consider, Medicaid expansion. They especially failed the most vulnerable among us whose suffering is now compounded by nature's fury.