COLUMBIA – Former State Representative Judy Baker is running for State Senate District 19 and the numbers are clear: she has the momentum to win in November.
Yesterday, Missouri voters passed Amendment 2 to expand Medicaid in the state. Boone and Cooper Counties voted in favor of Amendment 2, 63.2% to 36.8%. Baker received 55.4% of total votes cast for Senate District 19 candidates, to 44.6% for Republican incumbent Caleb Rowden. She outperformed Rowden in Boone County by more than 6,000 votes. In 2016, Rowden won the seat by only 2,156 votes, or 2.5 points, against Democratic candidate Stephen Webber. Rowden currently serves as the Senate Majority Leader.
“I’m thrilled that Medicaid expansion will finally happen in our state,” Baker said. “The election night numbers send an unmistakable message that voters in Mid-Missouri want a new direction and new leadership on issues that are important to them, like healthcare access.”
Baker has been a proponent of Medicaid expansion ever since Medicaid was cut in her first term as State Representative. At that time, Republican politicians in Jefferson City reduced Medicaid eligibility to one of the lowest levels in the country, and it has remained there ever since.
“Caleb Rowden voted against Medicaid expansion every chance he got for over six years in the state legislature. And he’s led the effort to overturn Clean Missouri, the anti-corruption amendment, which was supported by 72% of voters in our district in 2018,” Baker said. “Ultimately, Rowden can’t be trusted to lead on implementing Amendment 2, even though his constituents overwhelmingly supported it.”
Fully implemented, Medicaid expansion is expected to make over 200,000 Missourians eligible for coverage, bring federal tax dollars back home to the state, and repair failing healthcare infrastructure, which has led to a rash of rural hospital closures – including the hospital in Cooper County.
“The past six months of the COVID-19 pandemic have made it obvious just how urgent access to doctors and hospitals, as well as investment in public health resources, is for Missourians. It’s a matter of life and death – and more than 1,300 of our neighbors have already lost their lives to COVID-19. We owe Missouri leadership in Jefferson City that knows what to do, and will take concrete action to do it,” Baker said.
Baker is a healthcare policy expert, with years of healthcare management experience in the public and private sectors. While in the Missouri House of Representatives, she was the ranking member of the budget, healthcare, and education committees. In 2009, she was appointed to serve as Director of Region VII for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In that role, she helped lead the federal response to the H1N1 pandemic and the Joplin tornado. Baker has also taught health policy and economics at Columbia College, the University of Missouri, and New York University.
“We’re in the middle of a once-in-a-generation public health crisis,” former Governor Roger Wilson added. “There’s no one better prepared to lead the state legislature through this than Judy Baker, and no one I trust more to protect the will of the voters and see Medicaid expansion translated into good policy.”