Building power to expand Medicaid in Missouri

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, I have been on the frontlines advocating for its implementation in Missouri. From the rollout of Navigator and Assister funding (both Federal and private) that allowed organizations to assist Missourians in enrolling in affordable care coverage, and which gave me the opportunity to manage several millions in private funding to assisters, to the laws optional ( see National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) v. Sebelius) expansion of state Medicaid programs, I have worked to build power to ensure Missourians get access to features of the law meant to increase access to care, and more importantly increase access to health care resources for rural and urban Missourians.

Door knocking in Farmington, Missouri – 2016

For the past five months (Feb. 2020 – June 2020), I have had the privilege of working as Coalitions Director for the Yes on 2: Healthcare for Missouri Medicaid expansion ballot initiative. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has provided me with a front row seat working to build power to make Medicaid expansion a reality. Building power comes in many different forms, but for a campaign “power” falls essentially into two buckets: grassroots and grass-tops power.

Grassroots power refers to the act of empowering citizens to be engaged in creating positive community-level change. Organizers are employed to help facilitate this process and often act as a spark in the community around a cause. As more people become aware of your issue, they may support or oppose you. Citizens, who support your cause act as the foundation for building grassroots power and are central to making change occur.

Grass-tops power refers to the act of engaging community influencers and organizational leaders to endorse and act in support of the your issue. Coalitions or networks are created to act as spheres of influence to spread your issue using a variety of tools in communities and places of power, and to balance opposition that may come your way. Building savvy and smart assets from your coalition, who speak clearly to your issue and resonate in certain communities is key. As more community influencers or leaders join your campaign, the greater your campaign’s sphere of influence becomes — and hopefully the more money you are able to raise.

Building the Yes on 2: Healthcare for Missouri’s coalition has been an opportunity that I will cherish. I have had the privilege of working closely with over 260+ organizations and an incredible network of influencers, who have been able to snag key endorsements including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, AARP Missouri, and several patient advocacy groups to name a few. But my advocacy efforts haven’t stopped there…

With twelve years of experience under my belt advocating for issues important to the health and well-being of Missourians, I’m excited for my next journey as the new Corporate and Foundation Relations Officer with The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Advocating for resources to help further the health and well-being of our region is paramount to my work and I look forward to getting started on July 6, 2020.


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