Gov. Jay Nixon said today that three of Missouri's most prominent statewide law enforcement groups have joined the growing call for the strengthening of Medicaid. The Missouri Police Chiefs Association, the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, and the executive board of the Missouri Sheriffs Association all recently stated their support for strengthening Medicaid because of how it would benefit public safety by improving access to treatment for individuals with mental illness.
Of the 300,000 additional Missourians who would receive health coverage under an expansion of Medicaid, an estimated 50,000 need mental health services.
"Bringing these dollars back Missouri will create thousands of good jobs and give hundreds of thousands of working Missourians access to basic health care, including mental health services," Gov. Nixon said. "The decision we make on Medicaid has real implications for public safety as well, and the support of these law enforcement groups demonstrates that. Strengthening Medicaid will strengthen public safety by giving individuals with severe mental illness access to earlier, more effective treatment."
"We've seen the tragic consequences of individuals with serious mental illness not getting the treatment they need, and becoming a danger to themselves or others as a result," said Detective Sgt. Kevin Ahlbrand, president of the Missouri FOP. "The members of the Missouri FOP are on the front lines protecting the public everyday and we support this proposal because it will make law enforcement more effective and our communities safer."
A report released last month by the Missouri Department of Mental Health found that strengthening Medicaid will increase access to treatment for individuals with mental illness. An estimated 50,000 of these previously uninsured Missourians need mental health services, including treatment for serious mental illness. According to the report, "many will be young adults, between the ages of 18-30, with developing mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder."
"Our officers deal every day with people experiencing serious mental health issues, so access to inpatient treatment is a serious concern," St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson said. "If those individuals with mental health challenges aren't getting the care they need, it affects the health and safety of the entire community. Ensuring that those mental health services are available, which this proposal does, will help us in protecting the public."
Because federal funding will cover 100 percent of the costs for calendar years 2014, 2015 and 2016, expanding health care coverage to these 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.