Editorial: Care about Medicaid expansion? Vote for Jill Schupp

St. Louis Post Dispatch

Friday, October 24th, 2014

By the Editorial Board

View Original Story Here

A brief drive through the heart of the 24th Missouri Senate District in suburban St. Louis can tell a voter all he or she needs to know about what should matter in the race to replace Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue.

Head west on Interstate 64, and as you pass Interstate 270, look to your left and right. What do you see? Missouri Baptist Medical Center and Mercy Hospital. Drive a few more minutes west and take a right on Highway 141. There’s St. Luke’s Hospital.

The health care industry is the top employer in the 24th District. Yet almost 10 percent of its residents lack health insurance. They live among great doctors and hospitals. They just can’t afford good health. There is one issue that matters above all else to voters in Maryland Heights, in Creve Coeur, in Olivette, Town and Country and St. Ann.

It’s Medicaid expansion. That’s it. You want jobs in the 24th District? You support Medicaid expansion. Period. End of story.

There is only one candidate who fits that bill, and that’s Democrat Jill Schupp of Creve Coeur.

We endorse Ms. Schupp to be the next state senator from the 24th District.

Her experience, her clear positions on Medicaid expansion and a variety of other issues, and the Senate’s desperate need for more ideological balance make Ms. Schupp the clear choice over political newcomer Jay Ashcroft, a Republican from unincorporated west St. Louis County.

Mr. Ashcroft is the son of former Missouri Gov. John Ashcroft, who went on to become a U.S. senator and U.S. attorney general before starting a Clayton law practice, where the younger Ashcroft also works. Mr. Ashcroft has never held political office, and his inexperience shows in his lack of clarity on key issues.

Most important is Medicaid expansion, where divining his position is difficult.

“We have a problem and we need to fix it,” Mr. Ashcroft told us when we asked if he supported attempts by Democrats and a few Republicans (including one of his chief advisers, former U.S. Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond) to expand Medicaid to cover people who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

But he wouldn’t commit to supporting legislation pushed by either state Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, or state Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, that would accomplish what needs to be done, a move that would be a boon to the health care-based economy of the 24th District.

Perhaps it’s unfair to Mr. Ashcroft, but we were fooled by the last Republican running in the 24th District. We endorsed Mr. Lamping four years ago. He campaigned as a moderate and took a hard turn to the right after being elected. One of Mr. Ashcroft’s biggest campaign contributors is retired financier Rex Sinquefield, whose tax-cutting mania would devastate public schools and other government programs, including health care. We’re not sure where Mr. Ashcroft stands on many specific issues.

Not so with Ms. Schupp.

She’s firmly in the Medicaid expansion camp. “I think the public is beginning to understand that we have an opportunity here,” she told us. “Medicaid expansion is the moral thing to do.”

Yes, it is. It’s also the financially smart thing to do.

Ms. Schupp, who has served three terms in the House, also is in favor of campaign finance limits, of expanding early childhood educational opportunities and of protecting women’s health care choices. She fits her district.

Voters in the 24th District, be they Republicans or Democrats, should be comforted by Ms. Schupp’s previous experience on the Ladue School Board and the Creve Coeur City Council. Those nonpartisan positions help prepare an elected official to represent all constituents, to work collaboratively with fellow elected officials, to get things done for people that truly matter.

Mr. Ashcroft wants to skip those local offices and go straight to the state Senate. An engineer and attorney, he’s a smart and respectful gentleman who seems sincere in his desire to serve the public. But he’s not yet confident enough to stake out meaningful positions on the issues that matter most.

Voters deserve more.

Vote for Jill Schupp for state Senate.

This post was written by