Last updated: April 15. 2014 1:37PM - 2167 Views
Travis McMullen Contributing Columnist

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Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is not perfect, but I’m happy that he is attempting to convince the fine politicians of the state of Missouri to opt in to the Medicaid expansion that is being offered by the federal government as part of the Affordable Care Act. Nixon made a stop right here in the State Fair City, at Bothwell Regional Health Center to reiterate his position that Missouri should be a part of the Medicaid expansion.

And he’s right.

It is shameful that many of the members of Missouri’s General Assembly are allowing their grudge against “Obamacare” and President Obama to get in the way of an initiative that has the potential to help the average Missourian just as much as it helps the economy. It is fine to not agree with all of the finer points of the ACA, but there is no excuse for denying the Medicaid expansion aspect of the law.

In 2012 The University of Missouri School of Medicine Department of Health Management and Informatics published a report entitled “The Economic Impacts of Medicaid Expansion of Missouri.” It is very interesting, and very supportive of the Show-Me State joining more than half of the states in the union in expanding their Medicaid program:

“From 2014 to 2020, the federal government will contribute $8.2 billion to Missouri’s Medicaid expansion (96.1% of total expansion costs).”

The most puzzling part about Missouri, or any state really, choosing to opt out of the Medicaid expansion is that they’re basically refusing free money. The federal government is indeed offering to pay for most of the costs of Medicaid expansion. I think it would be a positive to get back some of the roughly $2 billion that the state of Missouri pays annually to the federal government.

And if we don’t opt in to the expansion the federal government will simply spend that money elsewhere. There are an infinite number of projects that are being overseen by the federal government and they would probably be happy to divert those earmarked Medicaid expansion funds elsewhere. The beast will shrug his shoulders and put the money somewhere else.

It seems to me that the sort of people who are against the ACA would also be against the standing federal government in general so it is strange to me that they are not jumping on the chance to take some of our money back. The federal government would probably just waste it on another silly study about the mating habits of this or that, right? You could use the ACA against them and take as much as you can! The dastardly American government should have access to as little money as possible, right?

“With the expansion of Medicaid in 2014, 218,165 additional Missourians would be eligible for Medicaid, and this number would grow to 220,932 by 2020.”

There are people who do not subscribe to the theory that medical care is a human right — the simple fact that more people would have access to affordable medical care in and of itself is not a good reason to expand Medicaid. And even if you don’t there’s one more great reason for Missouri to opt-in:

“Expansion of Medicaid in Missouri is projected to generate an additional 24,008 jobs in Missouri in 2014. In one year, this is more than the employment of Missouri’s 10 Fortune 500 companies in the state. It also is 12.8% of the total unemployment number in Missouri in 2011.”

It would essentially be a stimulus package with no strings and a very high chance of success. Hospitals and medical offices would grow — suddenly more patients would be able to get the medical care that they need rather than simply dealing with nagging health issues because of the looming specter of outrageous costs. More money, most of it coming courtesy of the federal government, would flow into our medical facilities. We could see physical expansion, which would require the assistance of those in the construction fields. The need for nurses, doctors, and those in the medical field on all levels would go up and new jobs would be created at a steady pace. Bothwell Regional Health Center, Katy Trail Community Health and other local medical facilities would thrive and expand.

Instead, all of this medical economic stimulus will be going to states like Arkansas and liberal bastions like California, New York and Washington will be reaping the benefits. Even Arizona, a state that has a Republican governor, a Republican legislature and a recently tumultuous relationship with the federal government is taking their Medicaid expansion money because they know what it can do for the state and the people.

There are a lot of politicians that make a lot of noise about unemployment rates and institutional debt. The Medicaid expansion would be an effective way to strike a blow against Missouri unemployment and start to pay down the state’s multibillion dollar debt. Saying no to Medicaid expansion is saying yes to unemployment, debt and poor health.

It will be our funeral; it will be our bed and we will have to lie in it. The federal government and the ACA will roll on without us. If we cross our arms, pout and turn our nose up at this amazing opportunity the only people we will be hurting, or really affecting at all is ourselves. We can refuse to accept the nose to spite the face, but it won’t get us anywhere.

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