Now that our state legislature is back in session you’re going to hear a lot about Medicaid expansion in Missouri. I believe if you were to ask many people who they believe would benefit most from Medicaid expansion in Missouri their answer may be wrong.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that many people will guess that Medicaid expansion will provide the greatest benefit to urban or inner-city poor. Obviously there will be newly eligible Medicaid recipients in both urban and inner-city areas but Medicaid expansion in Missouri is really a rural issue.
Economists say half of the rural poor who would be aided by expansion live in states that have opted not to take that step. Rural residents will likely benefit from the health care overhaul, but many will be hurt by their states’ refusal to expand Medicaid coverage, a health economist said during a recent conference on rural health care. … He told hospital administrators and others gathered in Milwaukee that when researchers look at rural residents who could be covered by expanded Medicaid, more than half live in states that have opted out. In comparison, more than half of the urban residents eligible for coverage under the expansion live in states that are going forward with it.
Missouri is one of those states that has opted out of the Medicaid expansion and in our state that means many hard-working folks in rural Missouri do not have health care coverage options. In a rural communities like Clinton where small business is a driving force of economic activity not all jobs come with benefits. In many cases the pay is adequate for small town living but the pay isn’t enough for small town living and high cost health insurance. This is where not expanding Medicaid comes into play in rural Missouri.
By not expanding Medicaid our legislators are sending a message that discourages people from working. If an individual chooses not to work they will be eligible for Medicaid, by choosing to work they decrease their options for affordable, and life saving, health care coverage.