January 14, 2016
New Incentive to Close the Coverage Gap Creates Opportunity for Missouri
Today, the White House is announcing that President Obama’s 2017 budget will create a new incentive to close the coverage gap for the 19 states that have not yet taken the opportunity to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. By reimbursing each state for 100% of the cost of the newly-eligible for the first three years after it expands Medicaid eligibility, regardless of when it closes the gap, the proposal will further increase the fiscal savings Missouri would see by expanding Medicaid.
Missouri has approximately 300,000 people in the coverage gap, meaning they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, yet not enough for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. “Closing the coverage gap would already be a fiscal win for Missouri. But this added incentive, if approved by Congress, is just one more reason the Missouri Legislature should act today to expand Medicaid,” said Amy Blouin, Executive Director of the Missouri Budget Project. States that have already expanded Medicaid are saving state funds by moving people that are currently eligible for state-funded programs to the federally funded expansion. As they draw down billions of federal dollars to help cover the uninsured and provide health security to working families, they reduce their own spending, resulting in net fiscal gains. Missouri is already expected to save at least $100 million annually when Medicaid expansion is fully implemented. This added financial boost will increase those net savings in the initial years.
Beyond the fiscal benefits to the state, closing the coverage gap will allow people to remain in their jobs or get back to work. “It is high time that the Missouri Legislature put politics aside and focus on a policy that not only will bring new revenue into the state, but also provide needed healthcare for 300,000 hard-working Missourians,” said Jen Bersdale, Executive Director of Missouri Health Care for All. It will help Christopher, a 36-year old husband and father in St. Louis who has no health insurance even though both he and his wife work. Because he is uninsured, Christopher is unable to be screened for the hereditary heart condition that killed his father at age 40. It will also help Karen, a 64-year old grandmother in Jasper County. When Karen retired recently in order to care for her granddaughter, she lost her health insurance, and now she is unable to see a doctor to ensure that her high blood pressure stays under control. Missouri’s current Medicaid eligibility is among the lowest in the nation, preventing most working adults from accessing essential care.
People who are trying to work and trying to meet their health insurance requirements are caught in a political game being played by the Missouri Legislature. “It’s time this legislature took full advantage of the federal governments offerings in reducing the cost of health care in Missouri and in meeting the needs of the Missouri citizens caught in this gap,” said Kathy Birkes, Interim Executive Director of the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance.
While state projections have shown that state savings will already outweigh the state’s costs, the President’s proposal will save the state even more. Michelle Trupiano, Director of the Missouri Medicaid Coalition states, “There is absolutely no reason for the legislature not to act this year to close the coverage gap. Our budget benefits while also drastically improving the lives of 300,000 Missourians.”
- Missouri Budget Project – Traci Gleason – 816-872-8133
- Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance – Brian Colby – 573-634-9800
- Missouri Health Care for All – Jen Bersdale – 314-651-6568
- Missouri Medicaid Coalition – Michelle Trupiano – 314-805-5429