September 21, 2014

Group forms to push Medicaid expansion, urges legislature to take action (AUDIO)

The Affordable Care Act calls for Medicaid expansion, and Governor Nixon has made it a top priority this session. A new coalition has formed to push legislative action.

Nixon says Medicaid expansion would extend coverage for an additional estimated $300,000 Missourians, and grassroots groups from throughout the state are urging the legislature to take up and pass the expansion.

GOP leadership in the House and Senate have said Missouri taxpayers can’t afford the expansion once federal funding falls off. Federal funding would cover 100 percent of the costs for the first three years, and 90 percent or more in subsequent years.

Former legislator and coalition member Jeanette Mott Oxford says the expansion would boost the economy by cutting healthcare costs for employers and consumers.

The healthcare industry says a Medicaid expansion would keep struggling rural hospitals afloat, and the Chamber of Commerce supports the measure.

The University of Missouri did a study on the economic impact of Medicaid expansion, showing participating in the Medicaid expansion would create 24,000 jobs, bringing the state’s unemployment rate down to 6 percent; and would bring in $8.3 billion in federal funding through 2020.

Joseph Pierle, CEO of Missouri Primary Care Association and Chair of the Coalition for Healthy Economic Growth, says, “Our hope is that with this report, they will see the economic and health benefits to accepting the new federal healthcare funding, so that we may avoid leaving the working poor with no options.”

“The bottom line is that this is not a political issue for us,” he says. “The health of our economy and the physical and mental well-being of our State is not Republican or Democrat, blue or red. This is the real world. Our providers are on the front lines, every day, whether it’s in a hospital emergency room, Community Health Center, Community Mental Health Center, Rural Health Clinic, or a private doctor’s office; they face enormous challenges in providing care to the uninsured.”

Keeping the federal tax dollars that Missourians pay locally here in the State of Missouri makes fiscal sense, Pierle says.

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports (1:26)