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A new study by the Missouri Hospital Association says Missouri families and businesses would face a “hidden health care tax” that would top one billion dollars if state lawmakers don’t expand Missouri’s Medicaid program under the new federal health care law. AS KSMU’s Jennifer Davidson reports, Governor Jay Nixon was in Springfield Wednesday to highlight that report.
In its new study, the Missouri Hospital Association is reporting that not expanding Medicaid would involve some pretty hefty cost-shifting…that is, shifting the cost onto privately insured Missourians.
According to that study, the average family of four would pay an additional $1,688 in higher premiums between 2014 and 2020 if the state opts out of the Medicaid expansion plan. That’s because hospitals will still have to provide that care, while dealing with the growing cost of medical care, and the fact that hospitals will be losing federal reimbursement money under the new law.
The question of whether to expand Medicaid is before state lawmakers right now, and so far, the Republican-led legislature is against the expansion. The Medicaid expansion is part of the federal health care overhaul, which is controversial because of its cost and its politics.
Nixon was at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce to urge Missourians to contact their lawmakers in support of the expansion. The Chamber of Commerce is one of nearly sixty business groups across the state that supports the expansion for economic reasons.
If Missouri expands its Medicaid program, the eligibility threshold would jump from about 19 percent of the federal poverty level, where it is now, to 138 percent. Right now, non-custodial adults who don’t have a disability do not qualify for Medicaid in Missouri, regardless of how poor.
The federal government would pay for the first three years of the expansion, with the state gradually tapering up to a maximum of ten percent of the cost. In his tour of the state, Nixon is reminding Missourians that even if lawmakers don’t expand Medicaid here, Missouri taxpayers will still be paying for the federal expansion in other states.
For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Davidson.