Advocates weigh bringing Medicaid expansion issue to voters
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Advocates are considering whether to put the issue of expanding Medicaid before Missouri voters.
St. Louis resident Heidi Miller recently filed two petitions with the Secretary of State’s office seeking to ask voters to weigh in on expanding Missouri’s Medicaid health care program, the Springfield News-Leader reported .
Miller couldn’t be reached for comment, but expansion advocates said the filings aren’t a symbolic gesture.
“It’s not just another filing,” said Amy Blouin, president and CEO of the Missouri Budget Project. “There’s a lot of people and a lot of organizations that want to do something to fix the issue we have with Medicaid, and the momentum from other states kind of incentivizes Missouri to do something like Medicaid eligibility fixes.”
Blouin said she and other advocates have followed like-minded groups push successful ballot measures in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah.
Blouin and other advocates are still weighing whether to get behind the effort to gather thousands of signatures for a ballot measure. It’s unclear how much support Medicaid expansion would receive in the state.
Progressive initiative petitions last fall indicated that a measure like Medicaid expansion could garner support. Measures such as medical marijuana legalization and an increase in the minimum wage received more than 60 percent of the vote, Blouin said.
“I think that we’ve got good indication that Missourians are willing to support (Medicaid expansion) from those measures,” Blouin said.
The efforts come as Missouri’s Medicaid rolls are dropping faster than in other states, and Gov. Mike Parson called for $50 million less in health care funding because of a drop of more than 71,000 enrollees over the last year.
Opponents have argued that expansion would be too expensive. Many Republicans have expressed concerns with expanding a health care program that is in need of extensive reform.
A draft report commissioned by the state that was released last month found that Missouri could save up to $1 billion a year within the next four years if it overhauls Medicaid. The report didn’t call for tightening eligibility rules, but rather reducing Medicaid costs by altering reimbursement rates for hospitals, doctors and nursing homes.
Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com