March 15, 2013
Warrensburg Chamber joins Gov. Nixon's call to bring the tax dollars Missourians send to Washington back to create jobs in Missouri, avoid hidden health care tax hike
During visit to Warrensburg Chamber, Gov. Nixon discusses plan to protect taxpayers, create jobs by strengthening Medicaid
WARRENSBURUG, Mo. - On the heels of a new report showing that failing to strengthen Medicaid would increase health care costs for businesses, Gov. Jay Nixon visited Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce today to discuss the importance of bringing the dollars Missourians send to Washington back to create jobs in Missouri. The Governor's proposal, endorsed by the Warrensburg Chamber earlier this week, would bring $5.7 billion to Missouri and provide health coverage to an additional 300,000 Missourians over the next three years - at no cost to the state. A report by the Missouri Hospital Association this week found that failing to strengthen Medicaid would increase uncompensated care costs by $11.1 billion and impose a "hidden health care tax" hike on Missouri families and businesses. A family of four will pay an additional $1,688 between 2014 and 2020 if the state does not expand Medicaid, according to the report.
"This new report presents a stark choice: we can bring our tax dollars back to Missouri to strengthen Medicaid and reduce costs for employers and families, or we can send these dollars to other states and see these costs skyrocket," Gov. Nixon said. "That's why business groups like the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and the chamber here in Warrensburg have endorsed our plan to strengthen Medicaid. They understand that sending these dollars to other states will hurt their bottom line, and weaken our economy. That's not the right direction for the Show-Me State."
Last fall, a study by the University of Missouri found that bringing these dollars back to Missouri to strengthen Medicaid would create 24,000 new jobs in Missouri in 2014 alone. Gov. Nixon's proposal also rewards work by giving working Missourians who simply cannot afford health insurance access to basic health coverage. Under the proposed expansion, low-income Missourians who can't afford health insurance and earn less than 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level - or $32,500 a year for a family of four - would be eligible for coverage.
As a result of this clear economic benefit, a growing coalition of business and economic development organizations have endorsed the Medicaid expansion, including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce; the chambers of commerce in Albany, Bolivar, Branson, Cape Girardeau, Clinton, Columbia, Hannibal, Hermann, Independence, Kansas City, Kirksville, Lake of the Ozarks, Lee's Summit, Marshall, North Kansas City, Sedalia, Springfield, St. Louis, Warrensburg and West Plains; the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City; the Associated Industries of Missouri; Kirksville Regional Economic Development Inc., Columbia Regional Economic Development Inc. and the Northeast Missouri Economic Development Council Inc.
"The Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center Board of Directors is supporting Medicaid expansion in Missouri, for the good of our members, employers, and because this program is economically beneficial to our medical industry," said David Less, Chair of the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center Board of Directors. "Bringing these federal dollars back to the state of Missouri will create jobs and strengthen our local economy."
Recent studies have also shed light on the high costs of failing to move forward. Hospitals currently receive payments from the federal government for treating uninsured patients, payments that will be cut back dramatically, regardless of the state's decision on Medicaid. If Missouri turns down the federal dollars designed to compensate for those cuts by expanding coverage, hospitals will be forced to cut jobs and reduce services - while families and businesses are shouldered with higher premiums. The Missouri Hospital Association estimates that passing up this opportunity to strengthen Medicaid will cost the state 9,000 jobs and increase health insurance premiums for families and businesses by more than $1 billion.
The impact on Missouri's mental health system would also be significant. In a report released earlier this month, the Missouri Department of Mental Health found that turning down the federal dollars available to strengthen Medicaid will limit access to mental health services and weaken public safety, as hospitals respond to federal cuts by eliminating psychiatric inpatient beds.
"Throughout the country, Republican governors in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and Ohio are strengthening Medicaid in their states to grow their economy and create jobs for their citizens," Gov. Nixon said. "We cannot let Missouri fall behind. If we fail to act, those jobs and those investments will go to those other states: they'll get the benefit, we'll get the bill."
Because federal funding will cover 100 percent of the costs for calendar years 2014, 2015 and 2016, expanding health care coverage to those 300,000 uninsured Missourians would involve no state tax dollars for those years. Some of these federal dollars will pay for coverage that is currently being paid for with state dollars. In addition, the economic benefit of expansion will generate additional state revenue. These savings and revenue are conservatively estimated to have a positive impact of $46.6 million in 2014, $125 million in 2015, and $139.6 million in 2016.