Governor talks Medicaid in Kirksville

Governor Jay Nixon

Itâ??s been a hot button issue all around the nation--- Medicaid Expansion.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said he plans to provide health care coverage through the expansion of Medicaid.

Kirksville Regional Economic Development Incorporated recently endorsed Nixon's plan to provide health care coverage for an additional 300,000 Missourians.

Thursday morning Nixon was at K-REDI and began his visit by saying this is not the time to reopen the debate or reargue the merits of the President Obamaâ??s health plan.

One of the oppositions against the expansion is that some programs will be cut.

Nixon said that's not the case. Federal funding will cover 100 percent of the cost for the first three years.

â??We will actually benefit,â?? Nixon said. â??We will actually show a general revenue benefit from this because a significant portion of our federal/state healthcare obligations (is) paid for on a match system. Itâ??s 60 percent federal dollars and 40 percent state. By moving to 100 percent... you actually pick up additional state dollars that allow us to take those dollars and put those dollars into education, law enforcement and other things we can strengthen. Thereâ??s going to be a lot more therapist hired, a lot more doctors hired...and we think itâ??s going to be a very positive economic benefit, but for the state it will have a significant direct in the 50 million dollar range help to our state budget in the first year alone.â??

Missouri hospitals are required by law to treat people who have no health insurance.

Nixon said the Medicaid expansion will help the high cost of caring for the uninsured.

â??A lot of folks who don't have insurance access it at the most expensive place possible, an emergency room,â?? Nixon said. â??And hospitals have to take those patients and that therein lines uncompensated care.â??

He said the expansion is not only a smart thing to do, but the right thing to do. â??It's a smart thing to do because for the first three fiscal years 14, 15 and 16 100 percent of the cost of providing health insurance for those additional folks will be covered (with) federal funds,â?? Nixon said. â??That 100 percent funding is only available to us for the next three years. After that Missouri will gradually pick up the cost â?¦at the very worst its 90/10 (90 percent federal and 10 percent state.) Right now our Medicaid system is 60 percent federal and 40 percent state. Itâ??s a smart thing to do because if we take a pass on these billions of health care dollars that will come out of Missourians paychecks that money will go to another state. And quite frankly I like to see Missouri tax dollars go to work in Missouri.â??

Under the proposed expansion, low-income Missourians who can't afford health insurance and earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level would be eligible for coverage.

A family of four living at 138 percent of the federal poverty level in 2012 makes $31,809.