To date, Missouri has failed to expand its Medicaid program as part of the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare." As a result, federal dollars that would normally flow to underserved areas are being transferred to states that have expanded their programs. This loss of funding has major implications for health care in our state especially for those in areas of poverty and who are underserved. One particularly susceptible area is rural Missouri.
Sac-Osage Hospital in Osceola is a telling example.
As the state – and his reputation – seeks to move beyond Ferguson, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is rekindling his longstanding pitch in favor of expanding Medicaid.
And Nixon may be seeking to subtly link the expansion with Ferguson’s headline-grabbing racial and economic unrest, by emphasizing what the state has been giving up in federal money – and what he said has resulted in less help to those who need it.
Former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., and his wife Linda talk to reporters at an event Monday at the Danforth Plant Science Center. Bond was hired by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce to press for Medicaid expansion.
He didn’t succeed. Despite the attempts of several Republicans in the House and Senate to pass some form of expansion this year, Bond told St. Louis Public Radio on Monday that “we were just a few filibustering senators short of getting it done.”
Twenty-three people were arrested at the Missouri Capitol Tuesday following a protest supporting Medicaid expansion. The protesters began shouting slogans and singing songs from the public gallery above the State Senate floor during debate on an unrelated bill.
In the final weeks of the legislative session, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has made a last-ditch effort to resurrect a push to expand Missouri’s Medicaid program and accept roughly $2 billion a year in federal money.
The governor, a Democrat, unveiled his “Missouri Health Works’’ program before business leaders Monday in Cape Girardeau. By coincidence or design, state House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka and an opponent of Medicaid expansion, was also in Cape on Monday with conservative low-tax icon Grover Norquist to highlight a different issue.
I realize that in many quarters there is a feeling that all federal spending, even for vital human services, must be cut. However, if we can put that aside for the moment and look at the reality of life in Missouri, I would offer these considerations.
“The poor you will always have with you and you can help them when you will.” Mark 14:7.
Supporters of Medicaid expansion in Missouri continue to work on swaying opponents in the General Assembly over to their side. While it appears they have a long way to go, and the clock is ticking on the legislative session, some key advocates say they may be close to turning the tide, at least when it comes to a scaled-back expansion that would be paired with reforms.
Missouri’s business community is getting more vocal in pushing the state’s legislators to expand Medicaid.
The St. Louis Regional Chamber held a panel Friday with business leaders who expressed frustration that the state is not capturing federal dollars to provide Medicaid coverage to more low-income residents.
This year, the state will pass up $2 billion dollars in federal funds.
After the panel discussion, St. Louis Regional Chamber President and CEO Joe Reagan said that Jefferson City needs to get the message.