I promise to give you $19.50 for every $1.00 you give me. Do we have a deal?
That’s the decision in front of the Missouri Legislature. Medicaid expansion would add more than 300,000 to the Missouri Medicaid program but the state has the choice of whether or not to participate in the expansion.
If Missouri chooses to expand the program the federal government would cover the total cost of expansion for the first 3 years, after that, the state would cover 10 percent of the cost of the newly covered. Missouri would receive $19.50 for every dollar it spends on the expanded program between 2014 and 2019 but many legislators are worried that the state will have to cut other programs, education and public safety, to cover that 10 percent.
Missouri hospitals are in the cross hairs and the decision to, or not to, participate in the expanded Medicaid program will determine the survival of many Missouri hospitals. I realize money doesn’t grow on trees but if you think the economy is soft now and unemployment is high just wait until hospitals start closing. Through the entire economic downturn, hospital employment has been a bright spot. Beyond the cost of adding 300,000 new enrollees to the Medicaid program is the cost of not adding them. If the new enrollees are not added to the program they will still need care and when they report to a hospital emergency room for treatment the hospital is required to provide services. The cost of providing those services will be passed onto someone and that cost will drive up the cost of care for those who are covered by some form of insurance.
I would like for my retirement account to generate $19.50 for every $1.00 I invest and in terms of health care in our state maybe we need to think of the Medicaid expansion as an investment instead of an expense.