A closer look at Medicaid Expansion in Missouri

Missourians to vote on Amendment 2 on August 4th

JASPER COUNTY, Mo. – 20-year-old Reannon Stark is working hard to get herself and her two-year-old son Micah established. But has been having difficulty because of thousands in medical debt hanging over her head.

“I went into the hospital because I was stressed about money. And I came out of the hospital with an almost eight grand bill,” says Stark.

And now, she avoids going to the doctor altogether, because she can’t afford to pile onto that bill.

“I make too much for Medicaid. I don’t make enough for the affordable care act. So, especially during a pandemic, it’s really stressful to not have health insurance,” says Stark.

But that could soon change, since Missourians will be voting on Amendment 2 on Tuesday (August 4th).

Amendment 2 would expand Medicaid in the state to include residents 19 to 65 years old who don’t have children. It would also increase the threshold to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. That’s around 30 thousand dollars a year for a family of three. Much higher than the current threshold of 22 percent of the FPL for someone with a dependant. Proponents of the expansion say it would save the state money by bringing in a billion dollars from the federal government.

Candidate for State Treasurer Vicki Englund says expanding Medicaid would also create jobs and help boost the economy.

“The more people have access to health care services, especially during this global pandemic we find ourselves in, the more likely people are gonna be able to stay healthy,” says Englund. “As a result, businesses will be able to be more plentiful.”

But those who oppose the amendment say it would actually cost Missouri’s taxpayers millions.

“We’ve actually prepared the budget for up to a billion dollars in revenue shortfall,” says Missouri State Representative Cody Smith. “If we pass amendment two now and expand Medicaid and start spending hundreds of millions of dollars on our Medicaid program, that would be less money that we could spend towards other things like public education.”

38 states in the country have approved Medicaid expansion. Voters in Oklahoma narrowly approved the expansion back in June.

You can watch interviews with Representative Cody Smith and Treasurer Candidate Vicki Englund below.