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Nixon calls on General Assembly to bring Missourians’ tax dollars home

April 11, 2014

in State

Nixon-Bothwell As the tab for the General Assembly’s inaction on Medicaid exceeds $530 million, Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bothwell Regional Health Center in Sedalia to call on legislators to prevent further damage to the economy and stop flow of taxpayer dollars to other states. In March, a report from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and the Missouri Hospital Association found that inaction on Medicaid already cost the state more than 3,000 jobs over the past six months alone.

“Since Jan. 1, Missouri taxpayers have spent more than $530 million and counting to provide health care in other states – and where our tax dollars have gone, jobs have followed,” Gov. Nixon said. “The Missouri Chamber’s report shows that Missouri families and communities are already paying the costs of the legislature’s inaction, and it needs to stop. By denying Missourians any of the benefits but sticking them with the entire bill, the General Assembly is delivering Missouri families a one-two punch. With a little more than a month left in the legislative session, I urge the General Assembly to take action necessary to prevent further damage to our economy and bring Missourians’ tax dollars home.”

Medicaid reform and expansion would bring federal dollars that Missourians send to Washington – $2 billion a year – back to the state to provide health care coverage to 300,000 working Missourians making no more than $32,913 a year for a family of four. As a result of the legislature’s failure to act, those dollars – $5.47 million a day – are now being spent in other states. A majority of states, including Missouri’s neighboring states of Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois and Iowa, are moving forward with plans to expand and reform Medicaid.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion was also designed to compensate for payment cuts to hospitals and health care providers. Even though Missouri did not expand Medicaid, many of those payment cuts are still taking effect, forcing many hospitals, including Bothwell Regional Medical Center, to reduce staff and services. According to the survey by the Missouri Chamber and MHA, “more than one-third of layoffs and one half of hiring freezes have been in rural areas where the need for health care workers is great and hospital jobs help support the economy.”

Bothwell Regional Health Center is the second largest employer in Pettis County, employing more than 850 area residents with an annual payroll with benefits of $45 million. Since June 2013, Bothwell has reduced its workforce by 50 full-time positions.

“Here at Bothwell, we pride ourselves on providing high-quality health care to the communities we serve,” said John Dawes, Bothwell Regional Health Center CEO. “However, we’re seeing significant increases in the number of patients who have no health insurance coverage. In the Emergency Department alone, we provide emergency care for about 5,000 uninsured people each year and we end up covering about 97 percent of their health care costs. Because the legislature has failed to expand Medicaid, these costs will continue to rise, meaning we may be forced to consider cuts in services down the road. As one of the largest employers in Pettis County, we need Medicaid expansion so we can continue to provide care for the community and jobs for our local economy. These jobs loses are very real, and it’s time the legislature takes action to expand Medicaid.”

According to an analysis by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), expanding and reforming Medicaid would result in the creation of 23,868 jobs, $9.9 billion in new wages, and $14.6 billion in new Gross State Product (GSP) from 2015 to 2022. According to the report, Medicaid expansion would also generate $402 million in new state general revenue from 2015 to 2022, including $53 million in new general revenue in 2015 alone. --Submitted.

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