Gov. Jay Nixon was joined by the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce and other local leaders at St. Mary's Medical Center today to discuss the benefits of his plan to bring the dollars Missourians send to Washington back to strengthen Medicaid in Missouri, as well as the costs of sending these dollars to other states. The Governor's proposal, endorsed by the Blue Springs Chamber this week, would bring $5.7 billion to Missouri and provide health coverage to an additional 300,000 working Missourians over the next three years, at no cost to the state.
"Seizing this opportunity to bring the tax dollars that we send to Washington back to Missouri will help working Missourians afford basic health coverage, and create thousands of jobs across our state," Gov. Nixon said. "That is why business groups in every corner of Missouri and right here in Blue Springs are backing this plan to strengthen Medicaid the Missouri way. Missourians deserve a health system that reflects our values of hard work and personal responsibility, but we can't chart our own course if we stand still."
Gov. Nixon's proposal rewards work by giving working Missourians who simply cannot afford health insurance access to basic health coverage. Under the proposal, low-income, working Missourians who can't afford health insurance and earn less than 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level - or $32,500 a year for a family of four - would be eligible for coverage.
Gov. Nixon's proposal also strengthens the economy by spurring job creation throughout Missouri. 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, numerous statewide and southeast Missouri business groups have endorsed Gov. Nixon's plan including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Missouri, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City, the Platte County Economic Development Council, and chambers in Blue Springs, Grandview, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raymore, and the Northland.
Recent studies have also shed light on the high costs of failing to move forward. Hospitals currently receive payments from the federal government for treating uninsured patients, payments that will be cut back dramatically, regardless of the state's decision on Medicaid. If Missouri turns down the federal dollars designed to compensate for those cuts by expanding coverage, hospitals will be forced to cut jobs and reduce services - while families and businesses are shouldered with higher premiums. The Missouri Hospital Association has estimated that that passing up this opportunity to strengthen Medicaid will cost the state 9,000 jobs, increase uncompensated care costs by $11.1 billion, and hike health insurance premiums for families and businesses by more than $1 billion.
"The Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce represents more than 400 area businesses committed to ensuring that our community stays a great place to live, work and raise a family," said Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce Chairman Bill Fickle. "Strengthening Medicaid is important because if Missouri turns down the federal Medicaid dollars, hospitals will be forced to cut jobs and reduce services - while families and businesses are shouldered with higher premiums. The reformed program is also estimated to increase labor income in the state by nearly $7 billion and generate $856 million in additional state and local taxes from 2014 to 2020 which will ultimately benefit the Blue Springs community."
The impact on Missouri's mental health system would also be significant. In a report released last month, the Missouri Department of Mental Health found that turning down the federal dollars available to strengthen Medicaid will limit access to mental health services and weaken public safety, as hospitals respond to federal cuts by eliminating psychiatric inpatient beds.
"Throughout the country, leaders recognize that moving forward on Medicaid is the smart, fiscally responsible thing to do. Republican governors in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and Ohio are strengthening Medicaid to grow their economy and create jobs for their citizens," Gov. Nixon said. "If Missouri fails to act, these other states will get the benefit and we'll get the bill. We should be protecting taxpayers, not sending their money to other states."
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.