New Report: Most Missourians Who Would Benefit from Medicaid Expansion Are Working
A new report shows that most of the people who would benefit from an expansion of Medicaid in Missouri are working. Medicaid is the government health care program for the lower income and disabled. Right now, state lawmakers are debating whether to accept federal dollars to enlarge the program so that it would cover an estimated 300,000 more Missourians.
The report by Families USA, a nonpartisan organization that researches health care, finds that only 20 percent of the Missourians who would suddenly get health care coverage through Medicaid Expansion are classified as unemployed. Dee Mahan is Medicaid director for Families USA.
“Sixty percent [of the Missourians who would qualify for Medicaid under an expansion] were working. Twenty percent are not in the workforce—and those are people who said that they were full-time students, they were spouses who were not working, they had a disability, or they had been out of the workforce for five years. And then 20 percent were unemployed.”
The findings are significant because some conservative lawmakers who are blocking the expansion from happening in Jefferson City have portrayed the expansion as a government handout to people who aren’t contributing to society. Mahan says this report shows that’s not the case.
“I think there’s a lot of misperception that the group that’s being talked about is not pulling their weight or what have you – and what we really wanted to show, and the data proves this, is that [expanding Medicaid] would help working Missourians. And that a large number of people – in fact, the majority of the people who are in that income bracket, and who would benefit from the Medicaid expansion, who currently don’t have insurance, are working,” Mahan said.
The report shows that some of the workers who would benefit most are food service workers—like waitresses and fast food workers—as well as landscapers, child care professionals, retail salespeople, construction workers, and office clerks. Expanding the program would mean that anyone who makes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level would qualify for health care coverage through Medicaid. Lawmakers have until May to expand the program—that’s when the legislative session ends in Jefferson City and lawmakers return home for the year.
Four of the states that border Missouri have already voted to accept those federal dollars and expand Medicaid there: Arkansas, Illonois, Iowa and Kentucky.
To read that report for yourself, you can click here.