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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Governor outlines plan to strengthen Medicaid in Missouri

  • Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon came to Hannibal Monday outline a plan that would bring $5.7 billion to Missouri and provide health coverage to an additional 300,000 Missourians over the next three years at no cost to the state.
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  • Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon came to Hannibal Monday outline a plan that would bring $5.7 billion to Missouri and provide health coverage to an additional 300,000 Missourians over the next three years at no cost to the state.
    Nixon chose Hannibal Regional Hospital to discuss the benefits of his plan to bring the dollars Missourians send to Washington back to strengthen Medicaid in the Show-Me State.
    According to Nixon, business groups such as the Missouri Chamber of Commerce view bringing these dollars back to the state as a business decision.
    “They understand that bringing the dollars Missourians send to Washington back home to protect taxpayers, create jobs, and reward work, is good for our economy,” said Nixon. “They also understand that sending these dollars to other states will mean more crowded emergency rooms, higher costs for families and businesses, and fewer jobs in our communities. That is why we must move forward now.”
    Nixon cited a study done by the University of Missouri last fall that found that strengthening Medicaid in Missouri would create 24,000 new jobs in Missouri in 2014 alone. Nixon says his proposal would also benefit working Missourians who cannot afford health insurance access to basic health coverage. Under the proposed expansion, a family of four with an income of less than $32,500 a year, would be eligible for coverage.
    Also standing to benefit from the proposal is the Missouri’s mental health system. In a report released earlier this week, the Missouri Department of Mental Health found that turning down the federal dollars available to strengthen Medicaid will limit access to mental health services and weaken public safety, as hospitals respond to federal cuts by eliminating psychiatric inpatient beds.
    “Throughout the country, Republican governors in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and Ohio are strengthening Medicaid in their states to grow their economy and create jobs for their citizens,” said Nixon. “We cannot let Missouri fall behind. If we fail to act, those jobs and those investments will go to those other states: they’ll get the benefit, we’ll get the bill.”
    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 for those years. Some of these federal dollars will pay for coverage that is currently being paid for with state dollars.
    “The fact it (Medicaid issue) has not been used as an issue on either the sequester or fiscal cliff, I think clearly shows that even those (Washington) folks, who can’t agree on much out there, are agreeing we ought to move forward on this issue,” said Nixon.
    The Medicaid expansion will generate additional state revenue, according to the governor. It is estimated the savings and new revenue would amount to $46.6 million in 2014, $125 million in 2015 and $139.6 million in 2016.
    Page 2 of 2 - Nixon says the clock is ticking for action to be taken.
    “We’ve got to get it done this year because on Jan. 1, 2014, if we don’t have this done, there’s one thing I can guarantee you all, the federal government is still going to send you a bill for taxes, only they’ll be spent in other states. We ought to spend Missouri money in Missouri to improve our health-care system here,” he said. “I feel we’ve begun to make solid progress, but we need to get this done this year.”
    If the Missouri Legislature fails to act, the state will be negatively impacted. The Missouri Hospital Association estimates that passing up this opportunity to strengthen Medicaid will cost the state 9,000 jobs, including many in the health-care industry, and increase health insurance premiums for families and businesses by more than $1 billion.
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