Northeast Missourians unite in support of Medicaid expansion ballot initiative in Kirksville

Medical professionals in Kirksville gathered Friday to join the growing chorus of support for the statewide campaign to place Medicaid expansion on the November general election ballot.

Speakers included Kirksville radiologist Dr. James Adams and Kat Probst, assistant administrator of Adair County Ambulance District, one of northeast Missouri’s largest ambulance districts.

"Access to quality healthcare for rural Missourians is becoming more and more difficult as 10 rural hospitals have closed in recent years," Adams said. "The potential expansion of Medicaid in the Show-Me State will allow physicians to care for Missourians who have lower paying jobs that don’t include health insurance while also protecting rural healthcare. As doctors, we strive to care for all patients."

"Emergency medical services agencies such as the Adair County Ambulance District provide both emergency services and often primary care to many who struggle with access to proper healthcare," Probst said.

"We see a lot of folks in their homes struggling to make ends meet and access basic health services. Often we are called after a medical problem becomes a crisis as the patient has waited to seek help due to the lack of coverage. The expansion of Medicaid will safeguard hospitals and residents here in rural Missouri."

Kirksville is the latest community to show its support to expand Medicaid in Missouri, following similar recent public events in Hannibal, Joplin and Kansas City.

To date, more than 150 organizations have endorsed Medicaid expansion, including the Missouri Nurses Association, the Missouri NAACP State Conference and the United Way of Greater Kansas City.

Medicaid expansion in Missouri would help provide health coverage to more than 230,000 uninsured adults in the state, the overwhelming majority of whom work at jobs that don’t provide health coverage, by extending eligibility to individuals earning less than $18,000 a year. That cohort includes 50,000 parents and 18,000 near retirees.

It would bring more than $1 billion of our tax dollars home from Washington each year, create thousands of jobs and boost the state’s economy.

Thirty-six states have already opted to expand Medicaid, including neighboring Arkansas, where officials reported using savings from expansion to cut state income taxes and reduce payments previously allocated to the uninsured.

The Missouri border states of Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska and Iowa have also opted for Medicaid expansion.

An expansive body of research shows that Medicaid expansion will not just save lives but could also save taxpayers money.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have shown that expansion could save our state more than $1 billion by 2026 by reducing many of the healthcare costs the state now pays.

And an analysis of Medicaid expansion in Arkansas, Indiana and Ohio shows how those states have used Medicaid-derived savings to cut income taxes, increase government efficiency and improve worker productivity.

That report concluded that Medicaid expansion in Missouri ‘can be designed to budget for savings and revenue opportunities that significantly exceed the state’s cost of implementation.”

Healthcare for Missouri continues to collect voter signatures with a goal of qualifying for the November general election. The campaign has collected more than 75 percent of the 172,000 valid voter signatures required for submission by early May.