Nixon pushes for Medicaid expansion

 In this Aug. 2013 file photo, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon speaks in Harrisonville, Mo. Renewing his push to expand Medicaid eligibility to more lower-income adults, Nixon held a news conference Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, at his office in the state Capitol to discuss the proposed Medicaid expansion in advance of the 2014 legislative session.

In this Aug. 2013 file photo, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon speaks in Harrisonville, Mo. Renewing his push to expand Medicaid eligibility to more lower-income adults, Nixon held a news conference Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, at his office in the state Capitol to discuss the proposed Medicaid expansion in advance of the 2014 legislative session. Photo by The Associated Press.

Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday that Missouri’s failure to expand or reform Medicaid during the 2013 legislative session will “make standing still feel like moving backwards.”

“The differentials of not moving forward will be seen out there—rising premiums and a lack of access to health care,” Nixon said. “Those things are more dramatic than our neighboring states who are moving forward.”

Medicaid is health insurance administered by states for free or at low-cost to low-income individuals who meet specific requirements.

Twenty-five states decided to reform and improve their health care systems by expanding Medicaid through Obamacare. The federal government pays 100 percent of expansion costs the first three years and 90 percent of costs the years after until 2022.

Missouri decided to opt out of Medicaid expansion for 2014.

“Tomorrow, roughly $37 billion—including $2 billion of Missourians’ tax dollars—will begin to flow to 25 states that are reforming and improving their health care systems,” Nixon said Tuesday. “States like Arkansas and New Jersey, Iowa and New Mexico, Michigan and Ohio, Arizona and North Dakota.”

The “tomorrow” Nixon is referring to, is Jan. 1, the day that more than 2 million Americans will recieve health coverage through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, state-run marketplaces and expanded Medicaid programs. Coverage for those who enrolled at healthcare.gov before or on Dec. 24 will begin Jan. 1.

Missouri’s failure to expand Medicaid, excludes nearly 300,000 Missourians from being added to the state’s Medicaid rolls for 2014.

Nixon said those 300,000 Missourians are “factory workers and house cleaners, mechanics and truck drivers, moms and dads.”

“These folks work tough, low-paying jobs that don’t offer health benefits, and they can’t afford a doctor’s bill,” he said.

He said the legislature’s failure to expand Medicaid not only affects working Missourians, but also Missouri businesses.

“Tomorrow, employers in Missouri will face an uneven playing field—shouldering the burden of rising health premiums, while their competitors in other states see their costs go down,” Nixon said.

More details on Nixon's press conference and why he believes Medicaid reform stands a better chance of passing in the 2014 session appear in Thursday's News Tribune.

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