Missouri Medicaid Expansion Ballot Initiative Wins Backing of Kansas City Business, Civic Groups

Three of the city’s most prominent business and civic organizations came together Tuesday to formally endorse the mounting campaign to give Missouri voters the chance to approve Medicaid expansion.

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Greater Kansas City and Civic Council of Greater Kansas City join a wide-ranging coalition of businesses, hospitals, medical organizations, civic and charitable groups and everyday Missourians.

Leaders of the three organizations publicly pledged their support for the Healthcare for Missouri campaign at a Union Station news conference.

"From a business perspective, Medicaid expansion makes fiscal and economic sense,” said Carolyn Watley, Chamber board chair and vice president of community engagement at CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services. “The three dozen states that have already taken this step can attest to the favorable outcomes — from income tax cuts and job creation to improved government efficiency and healthier workers."

Those states include neighboring Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky and Nebraska. Expansion efforts are also underway in Kansas and Oklahoma.

"Medicaid expansion is a high-value investment for the state of Missouri," said Bill Gautreaux, managing partner at MLP Holdings and chair of The Civic Council of Greater Kansas City. "Investing in the health of Missourians will enable our state to also come out ahead financially, by synchronizing the new opportunities expansion can create with a strategic realignment in policy and operational adjustments."

Medicaid expansion in Missouri would help provide health coverage to more than 230,000 uninsured adults in the state, the overwhelmingly majority of whom work at jobs that don’t provide health coverage, by extending eligibility to individuals earning less than $18,000 a year. That cohort includes 50,000 parents and 18,000 near retirees.

It would bring more than $1 billion of our tax dollars home from Washington each year, create thousands of jobs, boost the state’s economy and keep struggling rural hospitals open.

"Rural hospitals in Missouri and across the country are in a state of crisis," said Brent Stewart, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Greater Kansas City, noting that 10 such facilities have closed in the state since 2014. "Without Medicaid expansion, access to lifesaving care in rural Missouri is only going to continue to decline, if not disappear."

The joint endorsement by the three Kansas City organizations comes as the campaign has surpassed another milestone on the path to qualifying for the November general election, having collected more than 75 percent of the 172,000 valid voter signatures required for submission by early May.