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Advocates for the Poor and Disabled Rally for Increased Medicaid Coverage

Several hundred advocates for the poor and disabled gathered in the capitol rotunda today for a rally. They say they want lawmakers to repeal the Medicaid cuts they passed last year. KSMU's Missy Shelton has more.

The rally took place on Valentine's Day...participants wore puffy red heart stickers to underscore the theme of the rally: Have a heart.

Organizers say they hope to convince lawmakers that the Medicaid cuts they approved last year has hurt Missourians.

Among the rally participants was Alan Rainwater, a wheelchair bound man with degenerative disk disease.

He says the Medicaid cuts have made it difficult for him to get batteries for his wheelchair. He says he came to Jefferson City to bring this message to lawmakers.

While Alan Rainwater and others at the rally hoped to convince lawmakers to restore the cuts they approved last year, Republican Senator Charlie Shields says he and his colleagues made the right decision.

Shields chaired the Medicaid Reform Commission that traveled the state last year, gathering testimony on ways to improve Medicaid.

He says it would've been disastrous if lawmakers hadn't taken action to reign in the Medicaid program.

But Quincy Boyd says he doesn't believe lawmakers who voted to cut Medicaid want to look out for the poor and disabled.

Boyd is president of Local 2730 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Though his position is much different than the people who attended the Medicaid rally, Republican Senator Charlie Shields says the goal is the same...He wants people in Missouri to have health insurance. He says people who have concerns about the future of Medicaid need to come to the capitol to express their opinions as lawmakers work on crafting a new Medicaid system.

Shields says he'll be filing legislation in the coming weeks that deals with how Medicaid handles the adult blind and disabled community.