KCUR News
12:24 am
Wed March 11, 2009

Nixon Touts Health Plan In KC

Kansas City, MO – The Missouri House voted down legislation yesterday to expand Medicaid through an increased tax on hospitals. Republican leaders say they're concerned the move would lead to future state costs and put lawmakers on a path of expanding welfare. Meanwhile, Governor Jay Nixon continued to rally for support of the plan yesterday in Kansas City. KCUR's Elana Gordon reports.

Governor Nixon ended his statewide tour at Swope Health Services, where he again said he wants to increase Medicaid eligibility from its current cap at twenty percent of the federal poverty level.

Nixon: A single mother with 2 children - if she makes more than $3,700 a year - if she makes $3,701, she loses health care coverage - that's just wrong.

Nixon says expanding eligibility to fifty percent would provide health coverage to an additional 35,000 Missourians. He says the plan wouldn't cost the state a dime because hospitals would foot the fifty million dollar bill. That would then draw down additional federal matching funds.

John Bluford is head of Truman Medical Centers and also spoke at Nixon's event. He says hospitals are willing to pay for the increased coverage because the growing numbers of people who are uninsured tend to wind up in the most costly of places for medical care.

Bluford: Every day, the care givers in our hospitals see first-hand the consequences faced by individuals who've had no health insurance - these are members of your families, your friends, and your neighbors - who seek care in the only place they can be assured they can receive it - and that is the hospital emergency room.

Bluford says expanding Medicaid coverage would result in greater access to primary care services and help drive down hospital costs. Nixon also says despite legislative opposition to the expansion, he's hopeful lawmakers will ultimately support the plan in the state's final budget.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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