Health

Nov 28, 2012 4:35 PM by Eric Ross

Medical groups pushing for Medicaid expansion

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri medical groups launched a campaign Wednesday to expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of working adults, citing a study estimating that the largely federally-funded expansion could lead to 24,000 new jobs across the state.

The push to expand Missouri's Medicaid program may also gain support from Gov. Jay Nixon, who before his re-election this month had been noncommittal about whether the state should embrace the enlarged Medicaid program called for under President Barack Obama's health care law.

An email obtained by The Associated Press shows Nixon is planning news conferences Thursday at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, Barnes Jewish Center in St. Louis and Jordan Valley Community Health Center in Springfield. Officials representing the Missouri Hospital Association plan to join Nixon for what the governor's office has indicated would be "a major health announcement," said association spokesman Dave Dillon.

Joseph Pierle, the CEO of the Missouri Primary Care Association, said he also plans to attend Nixon's event in Springfield.

The hospital and primary care associations are part of a new coalition that announced a campaign Wednesday to try to persuade state officials to expand Medicaid eligibility by highlighting the economic benefits. They released a study estimating that an additional 161,000 people would enroll in Medicaid if eligibility is expanded to adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The study said the increased Medicaid spending could lead to 24,000 jobs by 2014 in nursing homes, hospitals, home-health care services, doctor's and dentist's offices and nonmedical industries such as retail stores and real estate developments.

Under a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, each state can decide whether to enact the Medicaid expansion called for under Obama's health care law. The federal government would pay the full cost of the expansion starting in 2014, but states would begin paying a 5 percent share in 2017 that would gradually increase to 10 percent by 2020.

Republican state legislative leaders have expressed opposition to the Medicaid expansion, citing concerns about whether the state could afford to pay its share of the costs in the future. Nixon, a Democrat, has said only that he was reviewing Missouri's options on the Medicaid expansion.

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