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Democrats file bill to expand Medicaid

Rep. Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, says a Medicaid expansion bill he filed Monday will create jobs, economic growth and help rural hospitals, as well as extend health care access to as many as 300,000 Missourians.

The legislation, House Bill 627, would expand eligibility requirements to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, providing an $8.2 billion investment to the state. It would also create 24,000 new jobs and provide an additional $9.6 billion in economic activity in Missouri by 2020, according to a University of Missouri School of Medicine study, commissioned by the Missouri Hospital Association.

Without Medicaid expansion, Hummel said, 5,000 Missouri jobs would be eliminated.

“House Democrats choose the option of job creation, economic growth and thriving rural hospitals,” he said. “And, really, that should be the only option being discussed.”

Kerry Noble, CEO of Pemiscot Memorial Hospital in Hayti, said the expansion would allow the hospital to improve its services, upgrade equipment and facilities, and increase patients’ access to care.

Without expansion, Noble said, it could be

difficult for the hospital to survive financially. The hospital is the second largest employer in Pemiscot County, employing 550 people on a $20 million payroll.

“If we lose that hospital, not only would it be difficult for patients to access medical care, it would be traumatic to the Bootheel region economically,” Noble said.

Rev. Dr. John Bennett with Missouri Faith Voices, said the organization is enthusiastically in support of Medicaid expansion.

“It would have a transforming impact on more than 100,000 uninsured children, because expanding health coverage to cover parents makes it more likely that babies will receive health care,” he said. “The clergy believes this bill and other efforts are absolutely necessary to most faithfully serve God of justice.”

Hummel said he realizes Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, is set to introduce Medicaid transformation legislation within the next few weeks. He said the House Minority Caucus is willing to work with House Republicans on Medicaid legislation.

While Barnes has not yet released specifics on his bill, he said the General Assembly will not be expanding Medicaid as envisioned under ObamaCare.

“For both recipients and taxpayers, Missouri Medicaid is in drastic need of a transformation to make it the most market-based Medicaid system in our entire country, and indeed, in the history of the federal program,” Barnes said.

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