Medicaid, the public health insurance program for low income and disabled residents, is no small chunk of change in Missouri. It comprises a huge portion of the state’s budget (more on that in Part 2). It also covers a lot of people: about one in ten residents.
Last year’s Supreme Court ruling left a key part of the federal health law up to states to decide: whether to expand Medicaid. About half of states have said they’ll go along with an expansion. The rest are undecided or opposed. Leaders in Missouri are still divided on what to do. Missouri’s Governor supports an expansion but he faced one of his toughest crowds yet, when meeting with Senate leadership this week.
Northland Health Care Access is one of several health clinics that receives funding through the temporary health levy. The levy, up for a renewal vote on Tuesday, also funds ambulance services and care for the uninsured at Truman Medical Centers.
Kansas City has long supported health services for people without insurance or a means to pay. This is primarily done through a health levy, or property tax, that brings in about $50 million annually. A portion of that tax will soon expire. Renewing it is now up for a popular vote this Tuesday. It’s Question 1 on the ballot. Despite all the contention around health policies and spending right now, there doesn’t appear to be much opposition to the local measure.
For more than a year, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and others at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have been courting states to take part in setting up and running a health insurance exchange. But Missouri, home of an enthusiastic governor and opposing legislature, keeps sending mixed messages. Now, with Friday’s deadline looming for states to commit to joining the feds in setting up an exchange, it appears as though HHS will be flying solo in the Show-Me state.