We need to expand Medicaid in Missouri. In this tough economy, more Missourians than ever are out of jobs and many are single parents making barely enough to survive, let alone support a family. Under the national health reform law, Missouri has an opportunity to expand Medicaid to provide health insurance to single parents and childless adults who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or about $25,000 for a family of three. Taking advantage of this expansion is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do for Missouri.
Expanding Medicaid is the Right Thing to Do.
- Being able to see a doctor is a right, not a privilege. Working families should have the right to receive basic medical care when they need it, but tens of thousands of working Missourians can’t qualify for basic health care, and 877,000 currently have no health insurance at all. That’s why we need to expand Medicaid coverage to help insure those who need it the most, like families with children who are working hard to make ends meet. Now is not the time for Missouri to start neglecting its working families.
- Medicaid saves lives and prevent thousands of deaths every year in Missouri. Expanding Medicaid will help allow approximately 300,000 more hardworking Missourians who earn just a fraction of the federal poverty line to purchase insurance. A recent study shows that expanding coverage could even save the lives of as many as 6% of the people who enroll.
- Missouri currently makes it harder than almost any other state to qualify for Medicaid. Under today’s rules, a single mother of two can’t qualify for basic health care through Medicaid if she makes anything more than $3,504 per year – just 18% of the poverty line. That's just wrong.
- There are now more than 877,000 uninsured in our state, devastating families, weakening our communities and overburdening our hospitals. Since the general assembly cut health care benefits for low-income families in 2005, there are now over 877,000 uninsured—that’s one in every seven Missourians. Expanding Medicaid saves Missouri money in the long run and would help allow 260,000 more hardworking Missourians who earn just a fraction of the federal poverty line to purchase insurance. A recent study shows that expanding coverage could even save the lives of as many as 6% of these new enrollees.
- If we can spend hundreds of millions on tax breaks for big corporations, we can make a serious investment in ensuring that all Missourians have access to affordable health care. Missouri spends hundreds of millions on tax breaks for big corporations – including insurance companies – that are making record profits. If we’ve got the money to pad corporate bank accounts, we’ve got the money to invest in making sure all of our neighbors have access to health care – especially the low-income working families who need it most.
Expanding Medicaid is the Smart Thing to Do.
- Expanding Medicaid will save hundreds of millions of dollars for Missouri in the long run. If we don’t expand Medicaid, Missouri hospitals could lose nearly $400 million in funding this year alone. This would force 40 to 50 percent of our state’s rural hospitals to close. In fact, losing these hospitals—and the thousands of jobs they create—means it would probably cost Missouri taxpayers more NOT to take the Medicaid expansion. Expanding with federal dollars will allow Missouri to focus on important priorities like education and public safety.
- Expanding Medicaid means thousands of good jobs in Missouri – more than 24,000 in the first year, according to a new study by the University of Missouri.
- Expanding Medicaid is affordable for Missouri, with the state paying nothing for the first three years. The national health care reform law provides more than $8 billion for Missouri, meaning our state won’t have to pay anything until 2017 and only 10% of the expansion costs after that.
Missourians want action to ensure access to affordable health care.
Today, 877,000 Missourians don’t have insurance, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can act now to expand Medicaid so more working families and persons with disabilities can qualify. Doing so will create thousands of new jobs, and save the state hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most importantly, it will save lives and make sure our hard-working neighbors are able to see a doctor. It's the right thing to do, and the smart thing to do.