Gov. Jay Nixon visited Burrell Behavioral Health Center in Columbia today to discuss how bringing Missourians' tax dollars home to strengthen and reform Medicaid will expand access to mental health services while reducing the costs of the program to the state budget. The net positive impact to the budget in Fiscal Year 2015 is projected to be $94.2 million. The net positive impact to the budget in Fiscal Year 2016 is projected to be $185.9 million.
"Stopping the flow of Missourians' tax dollars to other states by strengthening Medicaid will have real and immediate benefits for Missouri families -- and our state budget," Gov. Nixon said. "Strengthening and reforming Medicaid will give nearly 50,000 Missourians with mental illness the care they desperately need, and yield savings of nearly $100 million next year alone. But we can only realize these benefits if we take action and reform Medicaid the Missouri way."
Gov. Nixon's proposal to strengthen and reform Medicaid would seize the opportunity to leverage federal funds to expand health care coverage to 300,000 Missourians who currently lack insurance coverage. A national report from the Commonwealth Foundation found that Missouri stands to lose more than $2.2 billion a year in federal funds if the state does not move forward with Medicaid expansion.
"As of today, Missouri taxpayers have spent more than $200 million and counting to improve and reform health care in other states, like Arkansas and Arizona, New Jersey and Iowa, Utah and North Dakota. This adds up to $2 billion, or $500 for every Missouri taxpayer, every year," Gov. Nixon said. "That's wrong -- and as we've seen in these other states, there's a clear way to fix it."
A report from the Missouri Department of Mental Health found that nearly 50,000 of the 300,000 uninsured Missourians who would gain coverage under Medicaid expansion need mental health services. The report noted that many of these individuals would still seek DMH services with or without extending eligibility, in many cases through state general revenue funding. Under a reformed Medicaid system, Missouri will only pay up to 10 percent, if any, of many existing Medicaid recipients' health care costs. Because of this and other savings, the state would save nearly $1 billion over the next eight years.
To achieve these benefits, Missouri would need to provide Medicaid coverage to low-income Missourians who can't afford health insurance and earn less than 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. A family of four living at 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level in 2014 makes about $32,500 a year.
As a result of the significant benefits this policy would yield for Missouri's health, economy and budget, a broad and growing coalition of groups have joined the Governor in calling on the legislature to move forward including the the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, the Columbia City Council, and the Columbia REDI.