From the President & CEO--2013 Policy Priorities
As I See It– Medicaid expansion is a sound investment for our states
Health care issues remain at the forefront of discussions in Kansas and Missouri this year. With the majority of provisions of the Affordable Care Act upheld, and legislatures halfway through their sessions in Kansas and Missouri, it’s a good time to talk about the remaining health policy opportunities before us.
Participation in one of the most significant optional provisions, expansion of state Medicaid programs, is the topic of the moment, and rightly so. I have written before about the REACH Foundation’s support for Medicaid expansion in both states. Our Board of Directors sees this as one of the most important opportunities in our lifetimes to cover hundreds of thousands of low income and uninsured people in the two states we serve. Medicaid eligibility levels in Kansas and Missouri are remarkably low relative to the rest of the nation. It is nearly impossible for very low income, uninsured, childless adults in either state to qualify for Medicaid.
While a number of governors have stated their intentions to expand state Medicaid programs, others haven’t publicly shared their plans. In Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon has announced his support for expansion of Medicaid, calling it an economic decision. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback hasn’t communicated his position yet, but his administration continues to study the issue.
In both states, there is a lot of discussion among lawmakers, consumer advocates, business organizations, hospital and medical associations and others. While lawmakers in both states are generally opposed, hospital associations and a number of business chamber groups have voiced their support. We believe the more voices that join this chorus the more our elected officials will begin to understand the very real impact of Medicaid expansion on their own constituents and hometowns. Here’s our view in a nutshell: Medicaid expansion is a sound investment for our states. Plenty of reports and studies are pointing in this direction.