Last updated: August 28. 2013 8:49AM - 134 Views

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Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon rallied support for his call for the state to join Medicaid expansion called for under the Affordable Care Act on Thursday during a stop at Bothwell Regional Health Center.

Flanked by regional hospital administrators and representatives from the Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce, Nixon said the move, which would see about 300,000 Missourians added to the state’s Medicaid rolls, would have “a profound and positive impact, not only on our health, but also on the local economy here in Sedalia and in communities in every corner of our state.”

“This is an issue that transcends politics,” Nixon said. “That’s why Republican governors in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and Ohio are putting partisan politics aside to bring these federal dollars home to their states to grow their economies and create jobs.”

Under ACA, states may expand Medicaid coverage — administered in Missouri by MoHealthNet — to include people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, equal to about $32,500 for a family of four. Under the ACA expansion, the federal government would pay 100 percent of costs from 2014 to 2016.

In 2017, the state would be required to provide 5 percent in matching funds, with the state’s share increasing through 2020 when it would top out at 10 percent.

A Missouri Hospital Association/University of Missouri-Columbia study released in November found a positive economic impact from the expansion “projected to generate an additional 24,008 jobs in Missouri in 2014,” as well as “$856 million in additional state and local taxes from 2014 to 2020.”

“The economic activity created by adding $8.2 billion in federal spending to Missouri’s economy will generate nearly $856 million in state and local taxes throughout seven years. And, at a six-year cost of $333 million to the state, Medicaid expansion would be a net gain for state revenue, according to the research,” the study found.

Among those 24,000 jobs are a projected 1,450 jobs in Pettis and surrounding counties, including additional doctors, nurses, pharmacists and technicians.

During introductory remarks, John Dawes, BRHC chief executive officer, was joined by Allen Waldo, chief executive officer for Cooper County Memorial Hospital in Boonville; Julia Davenport, chief executive officer for Interstate 70 Community Hospital in Sweet Springs; and Chris Stewart, executive director for Katy Trail Community Health.

Dawes told a standing-room only crowd in the BRHC Education Center auditorium that the expansion is essential for rural hospitals, which face having to make cuts to services if the state rejects the proposal.

“That is something none of us want,” Dawes said.

The threat to health care providers, especially rural hospitals, is due to the elimination by 2020 of $3.3 million in Disproportionate Care Hospital (DSH) and other federal payments to Missouri hospitals that compensate hospitals for treating people without health insurance agreed to between hospitals and federal lawmakers during deliberations over ACA.

“The expansion and reform of Medicaid is incredibly important to the future of the people of the state of Missouri and our economy. It is also important to Bothwell Regional Health Center,” Dawes said. “Nearly one in five of the patients who present to our Emergency Department have no health insurance. Expanding Medicaid would extend coverage to about 4,200 people in our area. In many cases, these are the working poor who are cobbling together multiple part- time jobs without benefits to help make ends meet.”

Dawes was followed on Thursday by Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Connie Smith and Chamber President Doug Benitz, after the chamber’s board of directors voted to endorse Medicaid expansion on Tuesday.

“The Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors endorses Medicaid expansion in Missouri to strengthen Medicaid because the new investments it will bring to Missouri are estimated to create 1,450 jobs in our region. It will also help us to maintain a strong health care system in our area, which is a primary consideration of businesses considering locating in our community,” Smith said.

Nixon told the crowd Medicaid expansion “is the smart thing to do and it is the right thing to do.”

“Nonpartisan groups throughout the state, including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and the chamber right here in Sedalia, support this plan because they know that bringing the dollars Missourians send to Washington back home will create jobs and grow our economy,” Nixon said. “If we fail to act, those jobs and those investments will go to other states. They’ll get the benefit and we’ll get the bill.”

With vocal opposition from the Republican-controlled Missouri General Assembly, Nixon admitted that the proposal faces some hurdles and called on Missourians to contact state lawmakers in support of expansion.

“I think we are making a strong case and I think we are making good progress,” Nixon said. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we could do it, but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t need your help to get it done.”

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