Update: On Tuesday, August 4, Missouri voters approved Missouri Amendment 2, the ballot measure to expand Medicaid in the state. The vote means that Medicaid expansion will take effect in July 2021 and that an estimated 230,000 additional Missourians will soon be eligible for coverage through Medicaid. Missouri is the 38th state to have expanded Medicaid eligibility since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010.
Just weeks after Oklahoma voters approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid for 250,000 additional Oklahomans, Missouri residents will be voting on a measure that could expand Medicaid to more than 230,000 people in their own state. Missouri Amendment 2 will be on the state’s primary ballot on August 4th.
Missouri currently has one of the lowest income thresholds in the country in place to qualify for Medicaid – residents may not make more than $5,500 per year for a family of 4. As a result, more than 564,000 Missourians are currently uninsured. Uninsured Missourians use medical care at a lower rate and are more likely to go without care than those with health care coverage. This ultimately can lead to poor health outcomes and lower health literacy.
In addition to acting as a safety net for unemployed Missourians, Medicaid expansion would create thousands of new jobs and increase revenues for the state. In fact, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is backing Medicaid expansion, calling it a “pro-business measure.”
MO Health Net, Missouri’s Medicaid program, currently covers more than 804,000 people in the state, with the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) covering another 38,000 children. More than 50% of those covered by Medicaid are children, who receive comprehensive coverage including primary, acute, and preventative care, hospital care, dental and vision under MO Health Net for Kids.
Many children covered by Medicaid receive health care services in school, including primary care and mental health services. School psychologists, for example, promote safe schools and provide comprehensive mental health services to all Missouri school children. Yet more support is needed for school psychologists to provide care to students in need. In fact, 67,000 children aged 12-17 experienced at least one Major Depressive Episode (MDE) in Missouri in the past year, yet only 6.7% received consistent treatment.
Nearly 20% of those covered by Medicaid in Missouri are people with disabilities and 8% are older adults. Missouri also has a large military population as well as the 15th highest number of living veterans in the country. Medicaid expansion would help ensure that more of the estimated 30,000 uninsured veterans and 22,000 uninsured military family members in Missouri have access to health care.
MO Health Net enrollees are receiving regular health care services and happy with the coverage they receive. 88% of Missouri adults on Medicaid indicated that they had visited a doctor in the past year, compared to only 57% of uninsured adults. 86% of adults on Medicaid in the state indicated that they were satisfied with insurance coverage, which is on par with 87% of those covered by private insurance.
Missouri residents largely support Medicaid in the state and see it as a priority, according to polling from the Modern Medicaid Alliance. 87% of Missouri residents say it’s important to have a strong, sustainable Medicaid program in the U.S.
Medicaid programs across the country provide high-quality care and health services to more than 1 in 5 Americans. During the public health and economic crises, having a safety net for families and children is more important than ever. As Missourians and others look at expanding Medicaid, the Modern Medicaid Alliance continues to educate policymakers and the public about the positive benefits and results of Medicaid.