Amendment Two on ballot would expand Medicaid eligibility

By: 
Steve Chapman

Both sides of issue tout reputable support; organizations in favor, politicians against healthcare amendment
 
On Tuesday, Aug. 4, Missourians will be asked to vote on a Missouri constitutional amendment that would expand Medicaid eligibility in the state. Amendment Two, written by Dr. Heidi Miller of the St. Louis Regional Health Commission, would expand Medicaid eligibility to “adults that are 19 years old or older and younger than 65 whose income is 133 percent of the federal poverty level or below,” according to the page “Missouri Amendment 2, Medicaid Expansion Initiative (August 2020)” on Ballotpedia.org.
The page further states that the amendment would “effectively expand Medicaid to those with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level under the Affordable Care Act,” prohibit any additional restrictions or requirements for “the expanded population to qualify for Medicaid coverage” that don’t apply to those already receiving Medicaid coverage, and would require the state to seek maximum federal funding of Medicaid expansion.
Currently, Missourians are eligible for Medicaid if they are: over 65, blind or disabled, adults with children in a household whose income is at or below 22-percent of the federal poverty level, infants under the age of one who are in a household where the income is at or below 196 percent of the federal poverty level, children between the ages of one to 18 and who live in a household where the income is at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, and pregnant women who live in a household where the income level is at or below 196 percent of the federal poverty level.
Amendment boasts solid support
There are several organizations supporting the amendment. Healthcare for Missouri is currently sponsoring the “Yes on Two” campaign, aimed at generating support for Amendment Two. Other organizations supporting the amendment include the Missouri Family Health Council, Missouri Nurses Association, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and the Missouri Academy of Family Physicians, among over a dozen others.
Some officials also support the amendment. In a letter originally published in the Springfield News-Leader on May 14, Christian County Commissioner and former Missouri State Representative Raymond Weter wrote, “Medicaid expansion will bring more than $1 billion of our tax dollars back from Washington every year. That will help keep rural hospitals open, protect our jobs, and ensure all Missourians have access to health care no matter where they live.”
Missouri State Representative Tommie Pierson Jr. has also spoken in favor of the amendment. In a letter to the St. Louis American, which ran on July 6, he wrote, “A yes vote on Amendment 2 will bring billions of Missouri tax dollars back into our state, closing a huge coverage gap so that 300,000 of our low-income neighbors, most of whom are working, will finally get health care that has long be denied. Let us fix this unequal and unjust system by passing Medicaid expansion in Missouri.”
Also facing opposition
Amendment Two also faces opposition to its passing. Officials opposed to the amendment include Gov. Mike Parson, State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, State Senator David Sater and State Representative Elijah Haahr, among others. Also opposed to the amendment are the Missouri Farm Bureau and Americans for Prosperity-Missouri. In an article written by David Lieb, of the Associated Press, Parson was quoted as saying, ““I don’t think it’s the time to be expanding anything in the state of Missouri right now. There’s absolutely not going to be any extra money whatsoever.”
Fitzpatrick also argued against the amendment. In the article “In Republican States Like Missouri, Medicaid Expansion Still Faces Stiff Opposition, which aired on St. Louis Public Radio on Feb. 28, 2019, he was quoted as saying, “We’ve had to cut over $500 million of spending from [the 2019] budget to essentially make room for growth in Medicaid. ... In a year where we are already cutting a lot of money out of higher education and other things in the state to pay for Medicaid growth, I don’t see us coming up with an extra $200 million.”
The ballot summary of the measure reads as such:
“A ‘yes’ vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to adopt Medicaid Expansion for persons 19 to 64 years old with an income level at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, as set forth in the Affordable Care Act. Currently, Medicaid eligibility is set forth in state statute, but this amendment adds Medicaid Expansion to our constitution. This amendment prohibits placing greater or additional burdens on eligibility or enrollment standards, methodologies or practices on persons covered under Medicaid Expansion than on any other population eligible for Medicaid. The amendment requires state agencies to take all actions necessary to maximize federal financial participation in funding medical assistance under Medicaid Expansion. Federal law requires states to fund a portion of the program in order to receive federal funding (state match). This amendment does not provide new state funding or specify existing funding sources for the required state match.
A ‘no’ vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution to adopt Medicaid Expansion.
If passed, this measure has no direct impact on taxes”
More information on the amendment, including arguments for and against it, are available at www.ballotpedia.org, on the page “Missouri Amendment 2, Medicaid Expansion Initiative (August 2020).”

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