Medicaid Expansion Benefits All Missourians

July 13, 2020

Right now, in Missouri, parents in a family of four must earn $5,550 or less per year to qualify for health insurance through Medicaid. A single adult does not qualify regardless of income. Currently, 564,000 Missourians do not have health insurance and of this number, 230,000 Missourians make too much to qualify for Medicaid—but not enough to afford health coverage on their own. The coverage gap includes parents, thousands of uninsured veterans, people nearing retirement, working women who don’t have access to preventive care, and other hardworking Missourians whose jobs don’t provide health insurance. 

Far too many Missourians find themselves slipping through the cracks in our healthcare system, unable to afford care for themselves or a loved one.  To close this gap, we must open the health care safety net to Missourians who cannot afford or are not offered health insurance through their employer by passing Amendment 2 to expand Medicaid on the August 4th ballot. 

Now more than ever, we need to ensure that no Missourian has to choose between paying for life-saving care and putting food on the table.

As charitable foundations, we recognize the vital role that Medicaid plays in sustaining the healthcare delivery system in our state. While our collective philanthropic support has helped to improve the quality of care for many of our region’s most vulnerable residents, without access to affordable healthcare coverage, our state and its residents cannot flourish from a health and economic perspective. We support expanding Medicaid because philanthropic dollars alone cannot meet the need.  If Amendment 2 is successful, more low-income workers will be covered which leads to better health outcomes and allows people to continue working to support themselves, their families, and their communities.

Medicaid expansion would bring more than $1 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars back to Missouri. Those dollars could provide health care to more than 300,000 Missourians, create thousands of new jobs and help keep our rural hospitals open. With federal funds covering 90% of the costs associated with the newly-insured, state dollars could be reallocated to other Missouri programs. Failing to pass Amendment 2 means continuing to send our tax dollars out of state, at a time when they are desperately needed closer to home. 

The Department of Labor estimates more than 500,000 Missourians have filed for unemployment since March 15, 2020, as businesses close and workers lose jobs or have their hours cut due to the economic fallout caused by COVID -19. Across Missouri, small business owners are suffering, and people are struggling to pay bills and protect their families. As they lose both jobs and health insurance, our fellow citizens are less likely to seek care if they are sick.

When a Missourian without health insurance goes to the emergency room, it’s often to receive catastrophic care because their symptoms have become exacerbated. Inevitably, these episodes cost significantly more to treat compared to routine preventative care visits that an insured individual could access to treat the illness before it became serious. If we expand Medicaid in Missouri, more people would have access to affordable and preventative care across our state, keeping health care costs down for everyone.

Expanding Medicaid is good for all Missourians because access to affordable health insurance - especially now during COVID -19, is quite literally a life or death situation. Expanding Medicaid in Missouri will protect jobs, our economic security, our tax dollars, and, most importantly, our lives and loved ones.   

Claire V. Hundelt
Executive Director