Nixon’s proposal, which was endorsed by the Hermann Chamber of Commerce, 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.
Nixon, a Democrat, began the morning visiting in private for about 15 minutes with hospital personnel, board members and invited guests. Following his introduction by Ron Kraettli, chamber president, Nixon gave an emphatic talk seeking support for his plan which, he said, rewards work by giving working Missourians who simply cannot afford health insurance access to basic health coverage.
Under the proposed expansion, 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. Nixon noted his proposal also strengthens the economy by spurring job creation throughout Missouri.
“Right now, it’s too often easier to get health insurance by losing a job than by taking one,” Nixon told HADH staff, administrators, board members and hospital supporters. “That’s not right. Here in Missouri, we believe in rewarding work — and that is what strengthening Medicaid will do. 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.”
“That is why business groups in every corner of Missouri and right here in Hermann are backing this plan to strengthen Medicaid the Missouri way. Missourians deserve a health system that reflects our values, but we can’t chart our own course if we stand still.”
Nixon cited a study conducted last fall by the University of Missouri which found that bringing these federal funds back to Missouri to strengthen Medicaid would create 24,000 new jobs in Missouri in 2014 alone. More than 40 business groups have endorsed Nixon’s plan including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Missouri, and the chambers of commerce in Columbia and Hermann.
Nixon’s stop in Hermann, and later that day in Perryville, Mo., were similar to recent visits to rural Missouri communities which have a local hospital.
“If we fail to move forward with Medicaid expansion, local employers like Hermann District Hospital will face significant cuts,” Kraettli said in a prepared statement released at the event. “This will have a negative impact on our economy and our community. To keep our area health care providers strong, we must strengthen Medicaid.”
Nixon touched on the importance of expanding Medicaid services to benefit those with mental health issues. He cited a study by the Department of Mental Health which said if the state rejects these funds, it will “limit access to mental health services and weaken public safety, as hospitals respond to federal cuts by eliminating psychiatric inpatient beds.”
Nixon noted recent studies have also shown the high costs of failing to move forward. Hospitals currently receive payments from the federal government for treating uninsured patients. These will be cut back dramatically, he noted, 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. Nixon pointed out the Missouri Hospital Association has estimated 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.
“Throughout the country, leaders recognize that moving forward on Medicaid is the smart, fiscally responsible thing to do,” said Nixon. “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,” 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. We must bring our dollars home from Washington to create jobs, improve health care and increase public safety here in 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 through 2016.
And, Nixon, noted, some of these federal dollars will pay for coverage that is currently being paid for with state funds. 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.
(See related story on State Side, page 6).
|< Prev||Next >|