Gov. Jay Nixon took his statewide campaign for expanding Medicaid to the Trulaske College of Business on Feb. 7.
As first outlined in his State of the State Address in January, Nixon wants to accept the Affordable Care Act’s option of extending Medicaid coverage, which could mean health coverage for an additional 300,000 Missourians, he says.
Those receiving coverage would be low-income residents who can’t afford health insurance and who earn less than 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, according to a budget summary posted on the governor’s website. In 2012, a family of four living at the Federal Poverty Level made $31,809, the summary says.
In the first three years of implementation, Nixon’s Medicaid proposal could bring $5.7 billion to Missouri, all funded by the federal government with no cost to the state, Nixon said. The state would begin to pay a percentage of the cost after that, topping out at 10 percent in 2020.
“It would be a big win for our economy,” Nixon said.
Without the Medicaid expansion, said Hal Williamson, vice chancellor for MU Health System, University Hospital and Clinics could lose up to $6 million a year in federal payments due to reimbursement reductions in the Affordable Care Act.
“We would have to curtail some of the services we provide now,” Williams said in an interview.
Missouri hospitals are required by law to treat uninsured patients.
Many Missouri Republican leaders are skeptical of Medicaid expansion.
House speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, in his Jan. 28 response to Nixon’s State of the State, said the expansion would be a step toward Missouri becoming a “welfare state” and could cripple its economy. Republican leadership will provide a plan that transforms state Medicaid, Jones said, and offers “opportunity to those who are truly in need.”
Even so, an MU study for the Missouri Hospital Association found advantages to the proposed expansion.
According to the study, done last November by the School of Medicine’s Department of Health Management, the plan would provide health insurance to 160,000 more residents in 2014, create 24,000 jobs and bring $1.1 billion in federal spending to the state.
Nixon has made expansion a top priority. He is collecting endorsements from medical, business and economic development groups.