Monday, March 4, 2013

CEO: Medicaid expansion is vital to our mission

This map, courtesy of the Advisory Board Company, is based on comments made by each state’s governor. While Missouri governor Jay Nixon has announced his support of Medicaid expansion, the final decision rests with the Missouri General Assembly.

From Steve Edwards, CoxHealth's President and CEO: 

Missouri faces a dilemma. When the Affordable Care Act was passed it included what was, essentially, a trade. Hospitals across the country were required to accept drastic cuts to the reimbursements they receive for caring for patients with Medicare and Medicaid, with the understanding that Medicaid would be expanded. Not only would this provide more people with health coverage, it would help hospitals recover from the reduction in reimbursements, ensuring they could continue to provide the quality care we all rely on.

These cuts will amount to $4 billion for Missouri hospitals alone by 2019. For CoxHealth, it means an annual loss of $45-50 million once the ACA is fully implemented. That’s $45-50 million a year that could be invested in technology and facilities, in jobs, and in ensuring the neediest in our communities get reliable access to the health care everyone deserves.

If Missouri does not increase coverage as the law originally intended, hospitals will be faced with choices that will negatively impact their ability to serve the community, and many small, rural hospitals, already operating on razor-thin margins, may find it extremely difficult to keep their doors open. The $4 billion in cuts that Missouri’s hospitals will be forced to absorb will be handed to states like California, Massachusetts and Arizona that have expanded or will soon vote to expand coverage, leaving Missouri’s hospitals to pay for care in other states while Missourians struggle to adjust to the ACA without any of the intended relief.

Currently Missouri’s Medicaid program offers expanded coverage for children but extremely limited coverage for adults. In fact, a family of four must have an annual income of less than $4,104 a year for the parents to maintain coverage.

People working hard each day earning wages at or slightly above minimum wage are challenged to afford the cost of health insurance, which can easily exceed 25 percent of their gross pay. It is simple math that prohibits an individual working full time at $10 an hour from purchasing insurance. 

Expansion would allow Medicaid to fulfill its true purpose, acting as a bridge to health care for the working poor. It would allow these families access to quality, preventive health care services, and allow hospitals to continue to invest in technology, infrastructure and staffing for the good of us all.
Missourians deserve our help. Expanding access to affordable care improves the quality of care to all while helping those who have the greatest need.

Our mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve, and we live this mission broadly. To us, it means not only running hospitals, physician clinics, an ambulance service and more – it means doing all we can, every day, to ensure the health and well-being of our friends and neighbors. 

We believe in Medicaid expansion not only because it will help our health system serve those who need us, but because it will help those who need help the most.

If you are interested in contacting lawmakers from our area, please refer to the information below.

Senator Bob Dixon 
District 30, serving parts of Greene County
Phone: 573-751-2583

Senator Jay Wasson 
District 20, Christian and parts of Greene County
Phone: 573-751-1503

Senator David Sater 
District 29, Barry, Lawrence, McDonald, Stone and Taney
Phone: 573-751-1480

Senator Ron Richard 
District 32, Dade, Jasper, Newton
Phone: 573-751-2173

Senator Mike Cunningham 
District 33, Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Ripley, Texas, Webster and Wright
Phone: 573-751-1882

Senator Mike Parson 
District 28, Benton, Cedar, Dallas, Hickory, Laclede, Pettis, Polk and St. Clair
Phone: 573-751-8793