Last year, 53% of Missourians voted to increase access to Medicaid for our neighbors. We voted this measure into place knowing that we would only be responsible for 10% of the cost as Missouri taxpayers. We knew that our federal tax dollars would return to Missouri to cover 90% of these expenses. Nearly $1.7 billion will be used by our state. These funds would help care for children, the elderly and people with disabilities, while also helping our rural hospitals avoid closure.
I’m writing this letter in response to a number of misleading statements from legislators in opposition to Medicaid. Here are some facts to set the record straight:
Because of the American Rescue Plan emergency funds and matching, in addition to the already 90% coverage, Missouri could be leaving up to $3 billion on the table. These funds have already been allocated and will be dispersed to other states if we do not claim them.
Medicaid is already expanded. We voted on this, and it is enshrined in our state constitution. Any votes made by the legislature do not change the fact that 230,000 Missourians will gain access to Medicaid on July 1. The current struggle in the statehouse is about whether we choose to use our taxes along with the already allocated federal funds to do so.
This self-inflicted strain will adversely affect seniors, children and people with disabilities.
Voters have already made the decision, and it is time for our legislators to fulfill their moral and fiscal duties. We cannot afford to leave that money on the table when our friends and neighbors need the care. Fully fund Medicaid — anything less is a dereliction of duty. Join me in making sure your state senator knows we want our vote respected.
Erich Arvidson is the Medicaid ambassador for the Missouri Rural Crisis Center.