Gov. Jay Nixon today visited Kirksville Regional Economic Development Inc. to discuss his plans to provide health care coverage for an additional estimated 300,000 Missourians. The Governor said the step would yield significant benefits not only for uninsured working families and the economy, but also for Missouri taxpayers because the federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs for the first three years.
"Providing health care for an estimated 300,000 more Missourians - men, women and children - who currently have no health insurance is the smart thing to do, and it's the right thing to do," Gov. Nixon said. "If we take a pass on billions of health care dollars - dollars that come out of Missourians' paychecks - that money will go to some other state. I want to see those dollars go to work and help create jobs here in Missouri - and I'm glad that the business leaders here at Kirksville REDI agree."
In addition to the Kirksville Regional Economic Development Inc., business and economic development organizations across Missouri have endorsed the Medicaid expansion, including The Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the chambers of commerce in Kansas City, Independence, Springfield, Lee's Summit and St. Louis, and the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City and the Associated Industries of Missouri.
Gov. Nixon addresses expansion of health care at Kirksville Regional Economic Development Inc., one of many business organizations supporting the Governor's proposal.
"As a non-partisan organization committed to growing the economy, we know that bringing billions of dollars back to the Show-Me State is a smart business decision that will help create jobs and support rural Missouri," said Carolyn Chrisman, CEO of Kirksville REDI. "Likewise, ensuring that the doors of rural hospitals and clinics stay open and their staffs stay employed is critical to protecting the quality of life here in Kirksville - and in smaller communities throughout 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. As a result, expanding Medicaid would generate savings in the state budget moving forward. In addition, the economic benefit of this health coverage 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. Even as the federal funding match rate slightly declines to 90 percent, savings and revenue for the state budget will continue from $112.9 million 2017 to $4.3 million in 2021.
"There's also a human element to this that can't be ignored. A stronger Medicaid system will make health care available to 300,000 of our friends and neighbors - working Missourians who work day and night, but simply can't afford health coverage," Gov. Nixon said. "For these Missourians who are in the workforce but are still without insurance, expanding access to health care is the right thing to do."
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 2012 makes $31,809 a year.
Missouri hospitals are already required by law to treat people who have no health insurance. This results in the high cost of caring for the uninsured being passed along to employers and individuals who must pay higher premiums for their health insurance. If this coverage is not compensated for through an expansion of Medicaid to cover the cost of that care, hospitals will have to bear those costs or pass them onto patients with health insurance.
A recent report by the Missouri Hospital Association found that in 2011, Missouri hospitals provided $1.1 billion in uncompensated care to Missourians - a record level.
Last fall, a report by the University of Missouri demonstrated the clear economic benefit to Missouri of providing expanded health care coverage, using the available federal funds. The University of Missouri report showed that the additional funding for health care will create 24,000 new jobs in Missouri in 2014 alone.
"Across the country, we're seeing Governors and state legislators put politics aside to do what's undeniably best for their states, and we should do the same here in Missouri," Gov. Nixon said. "Republican Governors in places like Arizona, North Dakota, New Mexico and Nevada are using federal funds to strengthen their Medicaid systems because it's the smart thing to do. Missouri should not fall behind other states in bringing new investments, new jobs and new opportunities back home to our communities."