Gov. Jay Nixon today visited Citizens Memorial Hospital in Bolivar to discuss how his plan to bring the dollars Missourians send to Washington back to strengthen Medicaid in Missouri will benefit taxpayers, businesses and the economy. The proposal, supported by the Bolivar Chamber of Commerce, would bring $5.7 billion to Missouri and provide health coverage to an additional 300,000 Missourians over the next three years - at no cost to the state.
"Non-partisan business groups like the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, and local chambers of commerce throughout Missouri, support this plan because bringing the dollars Missourians send to Washington back home is good for our economy," Gov. Nixon said. "Thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity will go to states that seize this opportunity. I want to make sure Missouri does not get left behind. Otherwise, those jobs and those investments will go to other states: they'll get the benefit, we'll get the bill."
Last fall, a study by the University of Missouri found that bringing these dollars back to Missouri to strengthen Medicaid would create 24,000 new jobs in Missouri in 2014 alone. As a result of this clear economic benefit, a growing coalition of business and economic development organizations are in support of the Medicaid expansion, including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce; the chambers of commerce in Bolivar, Columbia, Hannibal, Independence, Kansas City, Kirksville, Lee's Summit, Sedalia, Springfield, St. Louis and West Plains; the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City; the Associated Industries of Missouri; Kirksville Regional Economic Development Inc., and Columbia Regional Economic Development Inc.
"As one of the largest employers here in Bolivar, we recognize that strengthening Medicaid is essential to our economy and our workforce," said Don Babb, CEO of Citizens Memorial Hospital, "Bringing these dollars back home to Missouri makes fiscal sense, and we look forward to reaching out to legislators to voice our support for this common sense proposal to strengthen our economy and create jobs."
"Across the country, Republican governors in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and Ohio are putting partisan politics aside to bring these federal dollars home to their states to create jobs and grow their economies," Gov. Nixon said. "We must do the same here in Missouri."
Because federal funding will cover 100 percent of the costs for calendar years 2014, 2015 and 2016, expanding health care coverage to those 300,000 uninsured Missourians would involve no state tax dollars for those years. Some of these federal dollars will pay for coverage that is currently being paid for with state dollars. In addition, the economic benefit of expansion will generate additional state revenue. These savings and revenue are conservatively estimated to have a positive impact of $46.6 million in 2014, $125 million in 2015, and $139.6 million in 2016.
Under the proposed expansion, low-income Missourians who can't afford health insurance and earn less than 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level would be eligible for coverage. A family of four living at 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level in 2013 makes about $32,500 a year.
Missouri hospitals are already required by law to treat people who have no health insurance - often in emergency rooms. As a result, the high cost of caring for the uninsured is passed on to employers and individuals who must pay higher premiums for their health insurance. According to the University of Missouri study, the average family of four in Missouri pays $434 more in insurance premiums due to the cost of the uninsured. Under the proposed Medicaid expansion, this cost shift will be reduced - saving each family an estimated $200 in lower premium costs each year.