As pandemic continues voters deliver mandate for more healthcare
Jefferson City – At a time when access to healthcare is needed more than ever, a group of Missouri doctors and Medicaid expansion advocates on May 1 submitted more than twice as many signatures from Missourians as required to put the initiative directly before voters in November.
If approved, Medicaid expansion will help keep rural hospitals open, deliver billions in economic stimulus and help hundreds of thousands of hardworking Missourians, who have jobs that don’t come with insurance, get access to life-saving care.
That includes Missourians on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak, working essential, low-wage jobs in grocery stores, as delivery drivers, in nursing homes, hospitals and elsewhere.
They, and others who would benefit, fall into what is known as a coverage gap, often earning too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to afford private insurance.
230,000 TO BENEFIT
An estimated 230,000 state residents would benefit from expansion, with eligibility for individuals limited to those earning less than $18,000 a year.
Healthcare for Missouri campaign volunteers were able to collect voter signatures before the coronavirus outbreak shut down public life in March, submitting to the Secretary of State’s Office petitions signed by nearly 350,000 Missourians. Roughly 172,000 verified and validated voter signatures are required to qualify for the November general election ballot.
The expansion of Medicaid in Missouri would also help counter the dearth of healthcare in rural Missouri. Ten rural hospitals in the state have closed in recent years, according to the Missouri Hospital Association, giving our state one of the country’s highest such closure rates.
BRINGING HEALTHCARE DOLLARS TO MISSOURI
As literally hundreds of research studies of Medicaid expansion in other states show, Medicaid expansion also makes strong fiscal sense.
One such research study at Washington University in St. Louis shows that Medicaid expansion would save Missouri more than $1 billion by 2026 by bringing our tax dollars home from Washington and reducing many of the healthcare costs the state currently pays.
Thirty-six other states have already expanded Medicaid, including neighboring Arkansas, where officials reported using savings from the expansion of more than $400 million during the last three years alone to cut state income taxes and reduce payments previously allocated to the uninsured.
The Missouri border states of Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska and Iowa have also opted for Medicaid expansion.
Beyond its many individual supporters, nearly 200 organizations have endorsed the Healthcare for Missouri campaign, with many more anticipated to sign on in the coming months.
Healthcare for Missouri is a grassroots, nonpartisan effort led by Missourians, including doctors, nurses, healthcare advocates, civic and business leaders and Missourians who need healthcare. For more information, visit healthcareformissouri.org.