Group meets to learn more on possible Medicaid expansion - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Group meets to learn more on possible Medicaid expansion

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Two Missouri House committees rejected plans to expand Medicaid on Monday. Two Missouri House committees rejected plans to expand Medicaid on Monday.
Those against the program said the federal government cannot afford to expand the program to pay for the additional patients. Those against the program said the federal government cannot afford to expand the program to pay for the additional patients.
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Two Missouri House committees rejected plans to expand Medicaid on Monday.

But some people are still trying to figure out what an expansion means.

Ryan Barker, the Vice President of Health Policy at the Missouri Foundation for Health held a forum at the Osage Center in Cape Girardeau to explain in simple terms, and answer questions on, the possible Medicaid expansion in Missouri.

"We're here tonight just to talk about the facts, talk about what are the arguments on both sides of the issue, and feel like it's important for the community to contact their legislators and let them know either way what do you feel about this and what should they do," said Barker.

Barker said it wasn't a surprise to him to see the expansion bills voted down Monday. He said those were the first bills filed in Missouri, and there will probably be more to come in the future.

Some people support a Medicaid expansion because some rural hospitals have said they need it to stay open. Others are in favor of it because for ethical reasons, they don't want to leave a group of Missourians who don't qualify for the current Medicaid, and can't afford to purchase private insurance, uninsured.

Those against the program said the federal government cannot afford to expand the program to pay for the additional patients.

Barker explained how with an expansion, additional groups like childless adults without a disability would now qualify for Medicaid depending on income.

He also showed how the federal government could have to pay an additional 15 billion dollars over the next 8 years if the expansion goes through.

"There are reasons why from both a business and economic perspective that people are saying we should expand Medicaid, and on the exact flip side there are reasons why we shouldn't expand Medicaid, related to costs, and what does this mean for the state and can America really afford this expansion," said Barker.

Attendees to the meeting each had different reasons for showing up.

"The clients that we deal with at community counseling, they have access, many have access to Medicaid, and the more I know about it, the more beneficial that I can be to the client," said Jerome Riley.

"One of the exciting things is we're switching from a per treatment, focusing on making people well, the new system seems to be focused on keeping people well," said Bill Osborne.

"The country's in the toilet right now, and people are looking for, they're having trouble putting food on the table, and this is a nice gesture, I guess for the state to let people know where they can go," said Tom Gleeson.

"This is an important issue because it does impact our health care systems on a local level, it impacts our local hospitals," said Barker.

The group will hold more forums in Springfield, Rolla, Columbia, and St. Peters in the coming weeks.

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