Working poor fall in healthcare coverage gap in Missouri -

Working poor fall in healthcare coverage gap in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. ( -- Demonstrators in Jefferson City have rallied for a Medicaid expansion to help those who are being left behind when it comes to healthcare coverage.

"They are in school, they are self-employed, they have families," said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Melissa Tepe of Grace Hill. "There are representatives from all of those walks of life. And all of those people in this coverage gap and there's thousands of them."

Those who are most often left uninsured are the working poor, who do not make enough money to qualify for an Affordable Care Act coverage subsidy and are not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid coverage.

More than 200,000 people in Missouri fall into this gap of uninsured workers, which includes Jalyne Morris.

"Luckily I had family members that could help me come in and pay for my services," said Morris, who scrambled for cash after a filling came out of her tooth on Tuesday.

Even though Morris works as a self-employed hairdresser, she falls into crack between Affordable Care Act coverage and Medicaid.

"It's no win, lose or draw. I have a high tolerance for pain," Morris said, describing her experience of lacking health insurance.

Legislature recently voted down a Medicaid expansion linked to the Affordable Care Act. This year, advocates are asking lawmakers to develop a new plan to expand Medicaid coverage using federal money.

"It doesn't mean we have to have it look exactly like Obamacare to have it fit for Missouri," said Robert Fruend, chief executive officer of the St. Louis Regional Health Commission. "Hopefully we can find some sort of common ground and design that kind of program. I know there are some legislative leaders working on that."

Other legislative leaders, however, have said that they are committed to not expanding coverage for Medicaid.

In the meantime, a safety net for the uninsured is being provided by health centers like Grace Hill and grant programs.

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