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Shelley Swoyer

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

Imagine supporting a family of four in today's economy on a gross annual income of $34,846 (133 percent of the federal poverty level) or about $2,900 per month. Perhaps this is even a two-income family where both parents are working low wage jobs but neither is fortunate enough to have employer-provided health insurance. Although this family earns too much to qualify for Medicaid, by the time rent, utilities, food, clothing, and transportation expenses are deducted, there is no money for health insurance.

Remember, though, this family cares just as much about their children and keeping them healthy as do those of you reading this letter. My family always had health insurance when our children were growing up. I never had to choose between food and medicine for my family. I never had to forego seeing a doctor because I couldn't pay. What sweet peace of mind so many of us have and, yes, take for granted.

Approximately 230,000 of our Missouri neighbors fall into this Medicaid gap, earning too much to qualify for Medicaid yet too little to purchase health insurance. Keeping Missourians healthy is good for all of us. A healthy workforce is more productive, and healthy children are more likely to be in school.

Expanding Medicaid is right for Missouri for so many reasons. It will create an estimated 16,000 jobs a year and help keep our rural hospitals open and functioning. Millions of our federal tax dollars will flow back into Missouri. Even the Missouri Chamber of Commerce recognizes the economic benefit to the state with Medicaid expansion and supports Amendment 2.

What really keeps me up at night, though, are those 230,000 people here in our community and around the state with no health insurance. You might know some of them. They likely work in your grocery store or favorite fast food restaurant. They care for our elderly in nursing homes and our children at day care. At the end of the day, many are moms and dads just like us who love their children.

We have an opportunity on Aug. 4 to stand with these community neighbors by voting yes on Amendment 2 to expand Medicaid in Missouri. Please join me in saying yes.

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