Kansas City, St. Louis business leaders advocate for Medicaid expansion

Kansas City, St. Louis business leaders advocate for Medicaid expansion

  

Business leaders from Kansas City and St. Louis are imploring Missouri lawmakers, including Gov. Mike Parson, to expand Medicaid coverage as voters approved last year.

Greater St. Louis, Inc. CEO Jason R. Hall; Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Joe Reardon; and The Civic Council of Greater Kansas City President Marc Everett Hill sent a letter to the governor and leadership in the General Assembly Wednesday advocating them to fully implement Medicaid expansion this year. 

“We are confident when we say there is no single greater economic investment you can make in Missouri this year than fully funding Medicaid expansion,” the trio said. 

Missourians voted to become the 38th state to expand its Medicaid program in August — a move to cover about 230,000 people who earn less than $18,000 a year. But the House Budget Committee voted down — along party lines — a proposed fund for the program last week and efforts to include expansion on the House floor have been unsuccessful, essentially punting funding to the Senate.

House Budget Chair Cody Smith defended the move, saying Republicans were “standing up to liberal special interest groups” and “saved Missourians over $100 million in General Revenue in the upcoming fiscal year alone, and billions more in years to come.” 

Parson’s recommended budget, proposed to the General Assembly earlier this year, earmarked $1.9 billion for Medicaid expansion with $1.65 billion set to come from federal funds. 

“Medicaid expansion will provide health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of Missourians and create billions in economic output and thousands of jobs,” the business leaders said. “The St. Louis and Kansas City business communities respectfully urge you and your colleagues to fully implement Medicaid expansion in Missouri in Fiscal Year 2022.” 

The three men noted their regions account for about 65 percent of Missouri’s GDP and are home to “world-class health care systems that care for significant portions of the state’s population.” 

The letter was addressed to Parson, Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, Senate Minority Floor Leader John Rizzo, Senate Assistant Minority Floor Leader Brian Williams, House Speaker Rob Vescovo, House Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher, and House Minority Floor Leader Crystal Quade. 

Parson has said that while he didn’t support Medicaid expansion, he included it in his budget because it’s what Missourians voted for. In a recent interview with Missourinet, Parson called the House’s move “a little different maneuver” and said he’s waiting to see what the upper chamber will do. 

A new survey commissioned by the Missouri Hospital Association and released this week showed a majority of Missourians overwhelmingly support the General Assembly in implementing Medicaid expansion. 

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Cameron Gerber contributed to this report.


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