Published in the Joplin Globe April 16, 2016
As has been made clear, events did not work out well for the GOP, and the Affordable Care Act is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.
For all its faults (even Democrats acknowledge the ACA could be improved), expanded Medicaid (part of the ACA) is an obvious benefit to millions of Americans.
We in Missouri have delayed signing up for expanded Medicaid, even though states such as Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky and Arkansas around Missouri have some version of it. Even the Kansas Legislature is considering expanded Medicaid.
For years, the GOP-controlled Statehouse in Jefferson City has refused to even debate the issue, maintaining that Washington would surely repeal and replace the ACA. That didn’t happen, so now what?
Maybe it’s time for Jefferson City to start talking about how many people would gain real medical insurance (several hundred thousand), how many new medically-related jobs would be created (tens of thousands), how much tax money would remain in the state (billions of dollars) and how much tax revenue would be generated by the new jobs.
With expanded Medicaid, hospitals in rural communities would be in a stronger position because their emergency rooms, a big part of their budgets, would serve an insured population and would therefore have much better solvency.
If the Missouri Statehouse and Gov. Eric Greitens would sign on to expanded Medicaid (many GOP state governments have already done so), the federal government would pick up 90 percent of Medicaid costs.
Working poor in our state who make less than 133 percent of poverty level are provided health insurance and no longer are dependent on hospital emergency room medicine for long-term health care or what would be otherwise inappropriate (and inefficient) medical service.
The time has come for such a conversation at the Missouri Statehouse on expanded Medicaid, and when this discussion takes place, then our elected officials would be doing their jobs.
The ACA is here to stay, meanwhile many real Missourians are being denied their right to good health insurance; and Missouri continues to pay the price both in dollars and in lower quality of life.