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Joplin Medical Leaders Declare Support For Medicaid Expansion In Missouri

Scott Harvey

Leaders from two major hospitals and a community clinic in Joplin joined the chorus of medical professionals statewide urging Missouri voters to expand Medicaid in the 2020 election. Medicaid is the government health coverage program for the lower-income and disabled populations.

At a press conference Thursday, CEO of Freeman Health System Paula Baker said by the time many lower-income patients make it to a hospital, it's late in their illness, and they show up at the costly Emergency Department.  

The Missouri Hospital Association and the Missouri Nurses Association have also announced their support for expanding Medicaid in the state.

Healthcare for Missouri is leading the effort to gather signatures through an initiative petition so that Medicaid expansion would appear on the November general election ballot.

Jack Cardetti is a spokesman for that effort. 

"Since 2014, 10 rural Missouri hospitals have closed down here. And every study shows that the number one thing that states can do to prevent rural hospital closures is expanding Medicaid. In fact that’s why 36 states across the country have already expanded Medicaid,” said Cardetti.

So far, Missouri lawmakers have rejected the idea of expanding Medicaid in the Show-Me State.  The expansion was part of President Obama's Affordable Care Act.  Many Republican state lawmakers say Missouri's share of the cost would be too much.