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Medicaid expansion effort touted by medical, civic, business, faith leaders

Leaders from the area’s medical, civic, business and faith communities came together Thursday morning to support a statewide campaign to place Medicaid expansion on the November ballot

Medical, civic, business, faith leaders from Mercy Hospital Carthage; Metro Emergency Transport System, a local ambulance service; and the ACCESS Family Care medical and dental clinic, which hosted the event.

Even though Missouri doesn’t have expanded Medicaid, taxpayers here are paying for the expansion in over 30 other states.

Speakers at a pro-expansion news conference included top executives from Freeman Health System; Mercy Hospital Carthage; Metro Emergency Transport System, a local ambulance service; and the ACCESS Family Care medical and dental clinic, which hosted the event

Medicaid expansion in Missouri would help provide health coverage to more than 230,000 uninsured adults in the state, the overwhelmingly majority of whom work at jobs that don’t provide health coverage, by extending eligibility to individuals earning less than $18,000 a year. That cohort includes 50,000 parents and 18,000 near retirees.

It would bring more than $1 billion of our tax dollars home from Washington each year, create thousands of jobs and boost the state’s economy.

Thirty-six states have already opted to expand Medicaid, including neighboring Arkansas, where officials reported using savings from expansion to cut state income taxes and reduce payments previously allocated to the uninsured.

“The continued delivery of medical care to those who need it most is vital,” reads a statement of support from the Episcopal Church of Missouri, which was represented in Joplin by the Rev. Frank Sierra of the city’s St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.  “As we are sisters and brothers of one, creator God, we encourage the faithful of our dioceses and any other concerned citizens to consider supporting the effort to expand the Missouri Medicaid program.”

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have shown that expansion could save our state more than $1 billion by 2026 by reducing many of the healthcare costs the state now pays.

Healthcare for Missouri continues to collect voter signatures with a goal of qualifying for the November general election ballot. The campaign reported earlier this month that it has collected more than 75 percent of the 172,000 valid voter signatures required for submission by early May.

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