Amendment 2, a statewide vote to expand Medicaid health coverage to nearly a quarter-million individuals in Missouri, passed 53.25% to 46.75% in the August 4 primary election. By increasing the income cutoff for Medicaid, called MO HealthNet in Missouri, an estimated 230,000 individuals who struggle to make ends meet will now have health coverage.
“Today’s historic victory for Amendment 2 highlights that when it comes to the care of our neighbors and the health of our ailing economy, Medicaid expansion uniquely unites Missourians,” said A.J. Bockelman, campaign manager for Yes on 2: Healthcare for Missouri.
Bockelman thanked supporters who made over a million calls, sent over 200,00 texts and traveled 13,000 miles across Missouri to advocate for Medicaid expansion.
“Our coalition of business and labor, seniors and civil rights organizations, faith leaders and frontline healthcare workers, shows that when Missourians work for a common goal, we can make real and lasting change that improves the lives of every Missourian,” Bockelman said.
Dr. Denise Hooks-Anderson – board president of the American Heart Association (AHA) St. Louis, assistant professor of medicine at Saint Louis University and The American’s medical accuracy editor – said AHA supports Medicaid expansion because people living with low incomes are disproportionately affected by heart disease, hypertension, and stroke and Medicaid serves as the coverage backbone for the healthcare services these individuals need.
“I see at least one patient every day who is forced to make tough choices regarding their health due to a lack of insurance coverage,” Hooks-Anderson said. “Expanding access to health care provides a lifeline for Missouri families who are slipping through the cracks in our system, and it halts the agonizing choice that too many families face when deciding if they can afford critical medical care – including heart disease treatments and medications.”
She said Missouri has one of the worst rates for heart disease in the nation.
“Missourians with risk factors for heart disease and stroke who lack health insurance or are underinsured are more likely to die early and have poorer blood pressure control than their insured counterparts,” Hooks-Anderson said.
“Furthermore, uninsured stroke patients suffer from greater neurological impairments, longer hospital stays, and a higher risk of death than similar patients covered by health insurance. Our state has one of the worst rates of heart disease in the nation, but we have taken a key step to change the course by expanding Medicaid, delivering treatments and medicine to more than 230,000 Missourians.”
Rick Stevens, president of Christian Hospital, who worked on Medicaid expansion efforts for BJC HealthCare, said, “The citizens of Missouri have spoken to become the 38th state to expand Medicaid. Urban and rural areas of the state voted to say yes to provide health insurance to our most vulnerable populations.” Stevens added that Medicaid expansion provides health equity to the citizens of Missouri in urban and rural areas of the state. Several rural hospitals have closed because the state did not expand Medicaid. It also brings federal dollars back to Missouri to pay for it.
“This will bring over a billion of our tax dollars home from Washington to benefit our local economies and keep rural hospitals open – making sure Missourians have access to healthcare no matter where they live,” Hooks-Anderson said.
Dwayne Butler, CEO of Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers, said the passage of Medicaid expansion “will dramatically improve access to quality health care for our most vulnerable citizens and will go a long way to address the health disparities that have plagued our community for far too long.”
Now that the win is in, new work begins to make Medicaid expansion a reality.
Nicole Galloway, the Democratic nominee for governor, frequently points out that she supports Medicaid expansion while the incumbent Republican Governor Mike Parson opposes it.
“We can expand healthcare without raising taxes or cutting other programs. As governor, that’s exactly what I’ll do. Governor Parson won’t,” Galloway said.
"Governor Parson will undermine our vote in favor of Medicaid Expansion. History can be our guide. On Clean Missouri, on right-to-work, Governor Parson thinks he knows better than the voters. He campaigned against Medicaid Expansion and moved it to the August ballot to try to defeat it. Governor Parson said he’d raise taxes and cut other programs if we voted for it – and I take him at his word.
Galloway added, “The future of Medicaid expansion in Missouri depends on who is in the governor’s office next year when it comes time to implement it. Governor Parson cannot be trusted with the healthcare needs of Missouri’s working families.”