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Your Opinion: ACA and expansion of Medicaid

Your Opinion: ACA and expansion of Medicaid

September 26th, 2012 by Wayne Lee, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

As explained by Joel Ferber, Director of Advocacy, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, "the Supreme Court upheld the ... constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Court, however, did what no [other] court had done ... allowing the federal government to remove all Medicaid funding for states that do not expand coverage to 133 percent of the federal poverty level was unconstitutional even though the expansion itself is constitutional."

When we do not understand something it is much easier to turn away from it, disagree with it, not like it and/or be fearful of it. Already, the ACA has proved valuable by allowing children to remain on their parent's insurance policy until age 26. Some people with pre-existing conditions are capable of getting health insurance at an equal premium to others. Since 2010, 161,859 people have netted a savings of over $46 million in prescription drug rebates or a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs in Missouri alone.

The above items are mentioned only as a beginning to understanding the ACA for there is much more to the law, currently, in 2014 and beyond. One of the most important areas to comprehend is the expansion of the Medicaid Program. If expanded, according to the Missouri Department of Social Services, an estimated 255,000 uninsured Missourians are expected to enroll in the MO HealthNet Program. If Missouri lawmakers make a political rather than humane decision those 255,000 people will remain uninsured.

Additionally, with Medicaid expansion Missouri will receive 100 percent federal funding for the first three years gradually lowering to a 90 percent match by 2020. That federal fund is typically matched at a 63 percent rate. The state estimates that Medicaid expansion would bring in more than $11 billion yet cost only $375.3 million. This will grant an enormous amount of needed funding both for Missouri as well as medical providers and "in turn, lead to economic ripple effects as these health care providers pay rent, purchase food, pay taxes and so on." (Joel Ferber)

Refusing to expand Medicaid will save Missouri nothing, however, we will still be helping other states expand. By that I mean our tax dollars go to the states that are expanding Medicaid as Missouri sits idly by while 255,000 people go uninsured who otherwise could be insured and the state loses $11 billion dollars.

Missouri's economy is weak and Medicaid expansion will strengthen it.