In 2014, Missouri will forgo $2 billion in federal dollars that could have been used to improve the health of Missouri’s working poor, warned former U.S. Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond during a panel discussion today at the Missouri Chamber Day Conference in Jefferson City. He highlighted the importance of passing legislation that would allow Missouri to expand and reform its Medicaid system.
“Since I served as Governor and later in the U.S. Senate, I fought to send Missouri tax dollars home, not to watch our state sit on the sidelines and lose $2 billion in federal funds,” Sen. Bond said. “By acting this year, we can put those dollars to work reforming Medicaid, protecting access to health care and safeguarding our budget.”
During the panel presentation, the economic impact of forgoing $2 billion dollars was put in perspective:
•$2 billion is the annual food cost for 263,713 Missouri households.
•$2 billion is equal to Missouri’s annual sales and use tax collections.
•$2 billion is the value of all corn production in Missouri.
There is a strong business case for expanding Medicaid to allow Missouri to secure federal funding and extend health care coverage to 300,000 additional Missourians.
“Reforming our health system for the working poor would allow better access to care for uninsured Missourians — reducing absenteeism and increasing worker productivity,” said Dan Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “It would allow hard working Missourians who earn a low wage to stay on the job. That’s good for workers and the state as a whole.”
Mehan pointed out that Missouri can’t let another year go by without action.
“Missouri is leaving a lot of money on the table in 2014,” Mehan said. “If the state doesn’t extend coverage to Missouri’s working poor this year, we’ll have another year where taxpayer dollars from Missouri go to other states to improve their health and health care systems while the costs of the uninsured are shifted to businesses and individuals. That’s a lose-lose proposition.”