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Michael Lester

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

“Salus populi suprema lex esto – Latin for “The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law” is the state motto of Missouri. It is emblazoned on the front of the Capitol presumably to remind our representatives of why they have been elected to office. Fortunately for the people, the Missouri Constitution affords other avenues for the people’s voice to have efficacy. The petition process allows voters to directly enact laws that protect their welfare when their representatives refuse to act. This was the route that had to be taken to reduce big money influence and bring greater transparency and fairness to Missouri politics and elections – the Clean Missouri initiative.

Missouri is one of a minority of states that have failed to approve Medicaid expansion. You cannot get more basic with regard to protecting people’s welfare than attending to their health care needs. In this regard our representatives seem to have failed us again.

Earlier this year Washington University published a cost/benefit analysis of Missouri Medicaid expansion (publichealth.wustl.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Analysis-of-the-Fiscal-Impact-of-Medicaid-Expansion-in-Missouri-IPH.pdf). The study indicates that the health care needs of an additional 300,000 low-income adults would be covered under Medicaid expansion while the total burden for public health care costs borne by Missouri taxpayers would be reduced. In addition, from the date of implementing Medicaid expansion, savings for Missouri taxpayers are projected to increase yearly. Perhaps more significantly, based on the analysis and the experience of other states that have expanded Medicaid coverage, rural hospitals and clinics will have more stable and increased cash flows allowing them to keep their doors open.

On Nov. 12, the public is invited to discuss the merits of the Medicaid expansion petition proposal. The event, “Show Me Medicaid Expansion,” will start at 7 p.m. in the downtown Library Art Gallery. Through a series of short videos and with the help of an expert panel, an attempt will be made to answer the following questions about Medicaid expansion:

• Who benefits?

• What are the costs and who pays?

• Why should you care?

Whether you think this would be good public policy or not, come engage in the conversation; express your concerns, your opinion.

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