The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday added its voice to the growing chorus in support of Missouri Medicaid expansion ahead of Tuesday’s vote on Amendment 2.
“The expansion of Medicaid is anticipated to have positive effects on job creation (and) economic growth and on the health and productivity of Missourians, all while protecting rural hospitals,” the group said in a statement. “And the impact on southwest Missouri specifically would be significant.”
The business group’s endorsement follows a similar embrace of the pro-jobs measure from local Chambers in Columbia, Kansas City and St. Louis; the statewide Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and affiliates across the state in communities such as Independence and Webster Groves.
“We are currently losing out on federal funds that would benefit Missouri,” the Springfield Area Chamber noted. “If Amendment 2 passes, the state stands to benefit significantly from increased federal investment coming back to the state.”
As part of a statewide tour that’s made nearly 100 stops this summer, and just days from the Aug. 4 election, the Yes on 2: Healthcare for Missouri coalition returned to Springfield on Thursday to meet with supporters.
Speaking at an afternoon news conference at Ozark Community Hospital’s Evergreen Clinic, medical director Dr. Joseph Howitt noted the importance of Medicaid expansion not only for boosting access to healthcare overall but especially its impact on increased breast, cervical and colon cancer screenings — preventive services that save thousands of lives.
“Our state’s failure to expand Medicaid is hurting families, it’s causing rural hospitals to close, and it’s increasing healthcare costs. It needs to change,” he said. “No one should be forced to choose between putting food on the table and lifesaving care like heart medicine and cancer treatment.”
“That choice can mean that chronic conditions go untreated, developing into a late-stage illness that could have been prevented,” Howitt added. “I have personally seen more cases of colon cancer sadly and colonoscopy screenings as a preventive measure makes a huge difference. It creates situations where the patient must wait until their condition is critical and thus seek emergency care that may be too late. So many poor outcomes are avoidable with affordable, preventative care. Healthcare dollars are saved when Missourians have access to such care.”
The ongoing pandemic has also impacted healthcare access, especially to those who were already in the coverage gap, such as Springfield resident Victoria Altic, who lost her restaurant job as a result of the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic also led to being laid off from my job at a local restaurant. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that access to healthcare is more important than ever,” she said. “I, like many hardworking Missourians, now find myself out of work and without health insurance. Medicaid expansion will deliver healthcare to my family and other Missourians like me.”
A yes on 2 vote Tuesday will expand Medicaid to 230,000 hardworking Missourians by broadening eligibility to cover individuals who make less than $18,000 per year. It will bring billions of our taxpayer dollars back from Washington – money that’s set aside for Missouri but is currently being sent to other states. And it will protect thousands of healthcare jobs and help keep rural hospitals and urban healthcare clinics open.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis determined that Medicaid expansion will save Missouri more than $1 billion annually by 2026 and reduce many of the healthcare costs the state currently pays.
Missouri would join 37 other states that have expanded Medicaid, including neighboring Arkansas, where officials reported using savings from expansion to cut state income taxes and reduce payments previously allocated to the uninsured.
In 2018, voters in Utah, Idaho and Nebraska chose to expand Medicaid, and on June 30, voters in Oklahoma passed a Medicaid expansion ballot measure of their own.
Yes on 2: Healthcare for Missouri is a grassroots, nonpartisan effort led by Missourians, including doctors, nurses, healthcare advocates, civic and business leaders and Missourians who need healthcare. For more information, visit YesOn2.org.
PAID FOR BY MISSOURIANS FOR HEALTHCARE; JOE PIERLE, TREASURER