Kids Win Missouri, a multi-issue children’s advocacy coalition, announced its official endorsement of the “Yes on 2” ballot initiative which will expand health insurance coverage for parents and workers in Missouri.

“Our coalition has long understood and advocated for the importance of Medicaid in ensuring children and families have access to health care,” said Brian Schmidt, Executive Director of Kids Win Missouri. “Expanding Medicaid has a direct impact on our ability to cover Missouri kids and families and improve their long-term health and financial stability.”

According to a report from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, states that have not expanded Medicaid to parents and other adults, like Missouri, have seen increases in their rate of uninsured children three times as large as states that have expanded. Missouri saw an almost 17% increase in the number of uninsured children between 2016-2018, which means over 23,000 children are without insurance.

Current estimates show that 50,000 parents who currently aren’t eligible would gain access to health coverage through Medicaid expansion in Missouri. Pediatricians recognize that consistent coverage for children and their parents also means they will seek important preventive care including well-child checks and immunizations. Medicaid Expansion would also help stabilize rural providers to ensure that when families need care, they can access it within their communities.

“We know that families with health insurance coverage are healthier, including children,” said Dr. Kristin Sohl, President- Missouri Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics. “Access to healthcare is important to ensure children receive well-child checks and immunizations, which are important to ensure a healthy, happy life for all children in Missouri.”

Children’s advocates also point to gains in maternal and infant health as a key reason to approve Medicaid expansion in August. States that have expanded Medicaid saw a 50 percent greater reduction in infant mortality and reduced rates of maternal death compared to non-expansion states. In Missouri, there are significant disparities in health outcomes for Black mothers and infants compared with white mothers and infants.

“We’ve worked to chip away at our unacceptable rates of infant and maternal death by encouraging the state to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for moms with certain conditions, but we know access to full health coverage for all moms before, during and after birth is key to ensuring positive health outcomes,” said Casey Hanson, Director of Outreach and Engagement for Kids Win Missouri. “If we want to really advance equity in outcomes for moms and babies in Missouri, we need to expand Medicaid now.”

Beyond improving rates of coverage and access to care, research shows that guaranteeing health care strengthens families’ economic security, by protecting them from unexpected medical emergencies or having to choose between health care and other critical expenses. A recent report from Missouri Foundation for Health also shows the broader economic benefits for the state, including an average increase of more than 16,000 jobs each year following Medicaid expansion.

“Passing Amendment 2 is one of the most important things we can do right now to support Missouri families,” said Denise Cross, President and CEO of Cornerstones of Care. “Every day we work to improve the health and safety of children and families across the state through our prevention, treatment and support services.  In communities throughout Missouri, in particular communities of color, we have seen the devastating impact the lack of healthcare has on individuals and families. Amendment 2 will help reduce health disparities which will result in healthier families, healthier children, and healthier communities.”

Amendment 2 will be on the ballot for Missourians on August 4. In the meantime, children’s advocates will be working to share the benefits of Medicaid expansion for children and families and encouraging voters to support the initiative.

“We envision a Missouri where all children have the chance to be happy, healthy and successful. We know that Medicaid expansion can help get us there,” said Hanson.

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