After dodging the minefield of potholes on Kansas City’s streets, I reluctantly took two cross-state trips recently: to St. Louis via Interstate 70 and to Rogers, Arkansas, via I-49. I was certain both would be nightmares.
What a surprise, then, to find few problems once I got out of the metropolitan area. Obviously, the streets are not “up to date in Kansas City.”
This isn’t us
Missourians, are you watching what is happening in our General Assembly? Twice this session, our state representatives have endorsed discrimination based on sexual orientation, first through action and now by inaction.
Earlier this year, our lawmakers voted to allow LBGTQ government employees to be fired solely on the basis of their sexual orientation. Now, as the session is coming to a close Friday, the leadership is predicted to ignore an anti-discrimination measure and allow it to die from inaction.
The result is that Missouri remains a state where employers, businesspeople and property owners — people who serve the public — can deny equality and equal rights to some citizens, even though both the Missouri Constitution and the U.S. Constitution guarantee such rights to all citizens.
Thus, it is inappropriate — and embarrassing — in 2019 to allow this ridiculous attitude to rule our great state. Our representatives and senators need to endorse ongoing protective measures against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, disability and yes, sexual orientation.
Please start by contacting your state representative today.
Mary Alice Lyon
Sleeves rolled up
It’s been 65 years since the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case in which the justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. Its supporters hoped it would ultimately enable equitable educational outcomes for all students.
Yet, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, an achievement gap exists between African-American and Latino students compared with their white peers across Kansas City area school districts, at every grade level and in all content areas. How shall we respond?
First, we must create a culture and provide structures that encourage everyone to discuss race, equity and inclusion openly, honestly and as safely as possible. We must be a community that listens to the truth about people’s experiences, even if they are not our own. And we must be able to listen without judgment and without feeling attacked if we’re going to move beyond legislation to actual equity.
We have a history of tackling tough systemic issues in Kansas City and making progress through commitments to working together and supporting our school districts. This is not the time to divide and conquer, usurp power or start over with new school leadership. We must support the work of equity to benefit all students.
The wrong count
Medicaid provides low-income families and children the health care they need. Individuals with severe and persistent mental illnesses, college students, older adults and individuals with disabilities also use this program.
Since the beginning of 2018, tens of thousands of eligible Medicaid recipients have been erroneously dropped from Missouri Medicaid rolls — many if not most of them children.
As a physician, I have witnessed how detrimental it is to children’s health when their families can’t afford even basic medical care.
How did this happen? In 2018, a new system was instated that re-enrolled patients at a lower rate purposefully. In addition to lower re-enrollment, many of the individuals who were dropped were never offered the opportunity to submit documentation to prove their eligibility. Others were never notified and found out only after they tried to access health services.
Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Parson and the Department of Health and Senior Services touted the decline as a result of increased economic prosperity. What they won’t tell us is that the system has been violating federal law by failing to cross-reference patient income information with other state and federal sources.
We have to put people before politics and protect the most vulnerable Missourians. Our children deserve better. The governor and legislature need to prioritize fixing our Medicaid system and re-enrolling every person who was kicked off their health care coverage. Let’s hold them accountable.