Bram Sable-Smith | KHNKHN Midwest Correspondent
Bram Sable-Smith, Midwest Correspondent, joined KHN after eight years covering public health and the social safety net for Wisconsin Public Radio, The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, KBIA in Columbia, Missouri, and as a founding reporter of Side Effects Public Media, a public media reporting collaborative in the Midwest. He also taught radio journalism at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. His reporting has received national recognition, including two Edward R. Murrow Awards, two Sigma Delta Chi Awards and two health policy awards from the Association of Health Care Journalists.
Missouri has nearly 73,000 people waiting to have their Medicaid applications processed, more than the number of people enrolled in the expansion of the federal-state health insurance program. Although most states process Medicaid applications within a week, Missouri is taking, on average, more than two months. Patient advocates fear that means people will stay uninsured longer, leading them to postpone care or get stuck with high medical bills.
The pandemic exposed how old-school tech hampers access to health care and other public services. With new federal funding, states finally have a way to upgrade, if they seize the opportunity.
Voters in Missouri and Oklahoma approved Medicaid expansion to begin in 2021. But while Oklahoma has enrolled over 200,000 people so far, Missouri has enrolled fewer than 20,000. Why are two such similar states handling the public insurance rollout so differently?
An estimated 275,000 Missouri adults can get dental insurance now as the state has expanded who is eligible for Medicaid. But with so few dentists participating in the program, the state’s already-backlogged clinics are facing a glut of new clients.