Gov. Jay Nixon today joined local businesses at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce to discuss recent studies showing that businesses will pay higher premiums and jobs will be lost to other states if Missouri fails to move forward with Medicaid expansion. The Governor's proposal, endorsed by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and 57 other statewide and local business groups, 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.
A recent study by the Missouri Hospital Association showed that Missouri families and businesses would "face a 'hidden health care tax' in excess of $1 billion if the state fails to reform Medicaid." An average family of four would pay an additional $1,688 in higher premiums if the state fails to move forward.
"The evidence continues to mount that bringing the dollars we send to Washington back home to Missouri by strengthening Medicaid isn't just good for taxpayers, it's good for employers who will otherwise be hit with increased costs," Gov. Nixon said. "Here in Springfield, businesses are hiring and the economy is growing; we want to build on that progress, not undermine it by putting employers here at a competitive disadvantage."
In addition, federal payments hospitals currently receive from for treating uninsured patients will be cut, regardless of the state's decision on Medicaid. "These cuts will increase pressures to pass uncompensated health care costs on to the privately insured," according to the Missouri Hospital Association. If Missouri turns down the federal dollars designed to compensate for those cuts by expanding coverage, a recent analysis shows that Missouri's economy will shrink and an estimated 9,000 jobs would be lost to other states.
"The choice before us is simple: we can move forward, protect taxpayers and lower costs or we can take a step back by sending these dollars to other states and sticking Missouri businesses with the bill," Gov. Nixon said. "That is why nearly 60 state and local business groups, including the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, have endorsed this plan to keep our economy moving forward."
"When we looked at the numbers, we knew that moving forward with Medicaid expansion would be a win-win for businesses in our region," said Jim Anderson, Springfield Area Chamber President. "Springfield businesses don't like the idea of their tax dollars going to other states, while they bear the burden of higher costs. That is why we support Gov. Nixon's efforts to bring our tax dollars back to Missouri and keep our economy moving forward."
Strengthening Medicaid would also allow the state to implement reforms to promote personal responsibility and accountability, reforms that many private employers are already pursuing. Those could include, for example, financial penalties for missing appointments or seeking non-emergency services in an emergency room, and rewards for healthy behaviors.
"Right now we have a unique opportunity to reform Medicaid the Missouri way," Gov. Nixon said. "Strengthening Medicaid will make possible the kind of market-based reforms to reduce costs and promote personal responsibility that many private businesses are already implemented. Here in Missouri we do things differently than in Washington, and how we approach health care should be no exception."
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.