JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – As the U.S. Senate draws closer to session, the Missouri Health Partnership held a media conference in response to upcoming changes in legislation pertaining to healthcare. The conference was held to emphasis the need for healthcare for families and the elderly and how tax cuts to Medicaid could severely hurt those that benefit from it.
With 990,000 Missourians receiving health services through Medicaid, the Missouri Health Partnership aims to bring awareness to what they see as being harmful towards people who would be affected by these tax cuts the most.
This would not only include the testimonies from those who depend on the services provided to them through healthcare programs such as Medicaid but the conference would also focus on the budget, impacting Missouri’s economy.
“As you know the House passed their version of the Healthcare Bill several weeks ago, the Senate is expected to begin debate at moment on the version of the bill,” executive director of the Missouri Budget Project, Amy Blouin said. “We want to know that our senators are working to try to amend the draft of the bill. We want to make sure that draft really protects Missourians.”
Citing the Congressional Budget Office, Blouin stated that in the original draft of the bill that was released before the previous recess indicated that almost 22 million people would lose health insurance. She continued by addressing the numbers found by the Urban Institute that 90,000 children would also lose their healthcare along with the other 250,000 Missourians affected by this bill.
Federal funding for the state could also be capped and the funds coming to the state in turn would be reduced. According to Blouin and her sources, this would push all the financial responsibility and financial risk of Medicaid onto Missouri.
“The Urban Institute estimated that the House version of the bill in the first ten years would reduce federal funds for Missouri by about $3 billion,” Blouin explained. “The Senate version of the bill has a much deeper cut in terms of the cap, so the cost of Missouri would be even greater under the Senate.”
Blouin continued to explain that the changes proposed in the bill would alter how provider assessments could be used to leverage funding for the state. This would mean that the state would lose an additional several hundred million each year, leading to severe cuts in other areas of the budget or cuts to Medicaid services in the state.
“We’re very concerned. Not only does that impact people with access to healthcare, it impacts our economy as well, particularly the rural economy,” Blouin said.
Several rural hospitals across the country closed in recent years because their funding and stability had been compromised as the population in rural communities decreases. With the population living in these communities being more likely to be uninsured they, in turn, rely heavily on Medicaid.
Listing off hospitals, healthcare providers, clinics and mental health providers as organizations that depend on Medicaid’s financial stability, Blouin pleads with Missouri senators to protect the state and protect Medicaid under both bills in the House and Senate.
Although, when asked what made them so confident that the state would spend more money as opposed to just not providing services, the group did admit that they were not entirely sure. But citing the previous studies and the data from other outlets, one can assume that might occur.
Currently, only 17 percent of cost of Medicaid or one-seventh the cost of Medicaid is paid by state general revenue. The Missouri Health Partnership and the groups that they are working with hope to maintain that balance between where the state is now under the current legislation and the proposed legislation inside of Congress.