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Governor Announces Plan For Healthcare Expansion

Governor Jay Nixon has announced an agreement that would expand healthcare in Missouri without tightening taxpayers' belts. He stopped in Springfield Monday to talk about who would benefit from the new agreement the most. KSMU's Benjamin Fry reports.

Nixon spoke at the Jordan Valley Community Health Center about the state's agreement with the Missouri Hospital Association.

Under the agreement, the MHA will donate an additional $52.5 million per year to help parents without health insurance.

"Ensuring that our workforce has access to quality, affordable healthcare is vital for turning our economy in the right direction. To provide for their children, parents must be healthy enough to get work and perform on the job," Nixon said.

This would also make Missouri eligible for almost $93 million in healthcare matching funds from the federal government.

"By putting Missouri's families first, we can extend healthcare to more than 34,000 parents in Missouri and drive down the cost of coverage for all Missourians," Nixon said.

To go into effect though, his expansion would require legislation in the General Assembly.

Nixon's plan would increase the income threshold from 20% to 50% of the federal poverty level for those who would qualify for Medicaid.

This means a family of four would be eligible for Medicaid if both parents made $11,000 or less per year.

The current threshold for a family of four is about 4,500.

Nixon addressed concerns that a Republican controlled legislature may be skeptical about approving the eligibility plan as part of the budget.

"We haven't had any significant public discussions, but we have had behind-the-scenes discussions about this, and I think we've by far got the best side of this discussion," Nixon said.

Nixon says the plan would also be a benefit to those who are already insured by beginning a downward trend in health premium costs.

For KSMU News, I'm Benjamin Fry.