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Medicaid enrollment increases, expansion debate continues

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Medicaid enrollment in Missouri is up from last year by over 110,000 participants.

In May 2014, 819,419 Missourians were enrolled in Medicaid, compared to 936,823 in May of this year.

Missouri’s population is hovering at a little more than 6 million, meaning almost 1 in 7 Missourians is enrolled in the state-run health care program, while supporters of Medicaid expansion continue to say that over 300,000 Missourians would have access to the program if eligibility is expanded.

The numbers were released within weeks of the White House reporting Missouri has missed out on $1.37 billion in federal funding and an additional $200 million for uncompensated care costs due to the state not expanding the program to include more participants as called for in the Affordable Care Act.

Groups and a variety of local leaders from both sides of the aisle have pushed the Missouri legislature to expand Medicaid, but the majority of legislators have resisted the movement.

State Representative Mike Bernskoetter told The Eagle 93.9 on June 1 that the long-term numbers don’t add up to expand Medicaid.

“I’ve heard people say 100% for the first three years and then 90% for every year after that, but we’re so far in debt right now, I don’t see that continuing,” Rep. Bernskoetter said.

House staffer Chris Dunn tweeted that the increase in enrollment will surely impact the budget, meanwhile groups are continuing their Medicaid expansion events across the state, attempting to put pressure on legislators to expand the program to include more participants.

Meanwhile, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has continued to lend his support to the policy regardless of the legislature adjourning.