Readers' Mailbag: Constitutional Amendment NO. 2 on the August 4th Ballot

Submitted, Martha Woods Driskel
Lake Sun Leader

The wording of Amendment 2 is misleading. Ballot wording should say approval of Medicaid Expansion would be a cost neutral action. Or, it would more probably save Missouri taxpayers $39 Million in the next fiscal year. If our legislators are unable to do this kind of math, we need to trust the many statewide groups who are in favor of the amendment. For more information go to Missouri State Auditor’s Office Fiscal Note (20-063).

The ballot wording fails to say Missouri has a current net outflow of dollars due to failing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Missourians send income tax payments to the federal government every year. These tax dollars go into a big pot of money, part of which is distributed to the 37 states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. This results in about $500 million leaving the state each year, creating a major economic loss to the state. If this money was returned to Missouri, spending within the state would spur job creation, increasing incomes and tax revenues in Missouri. It would also provide better health care for poor Missourians.

Expanded Medicaid could provide essential health care to an estimated 271,000 adults and an estimated 30,000 children. Many of the children are currently eligible for Medicaid. There are several reasons why they aren’t receiving the services. These include stigma, lack of knowledge about their eligibility, parent’s immigration status, complexity of the current Medicaid programs, and perhaps the children are healthy and the parents may not see the need to obtain coverage.

The ballot language should say if Missouri enacted the Affordable Care Act to provide medical coverage for low income individuals it would be paid for with a 90% match of federal dollars leaving a cost of 10% for Missouri to pay. This is a higher percentage of federal return than is allowed under several other Medicaid programs. Many people currently receiving Medicaid would meet the criteria for this program and could be shifted, for example, from costly nursing home payment programs or payments for the disabled, which have a much lower reimbursement rate than Expanded Medicaid (90% federal reimbursement).

In the current pandemic, many families have lost employment which provided health insurance. Regardless if these jobs are reinstated or not, we as taxpayers will have to meet the costs for health care to pay for ill individuals one way or another. Using federal tax dollars to pay for 90% of the costs is a win/win for Missourians.

IF MISSOURI HAD CHOSEN TO EXPAND MEDICAID N IN 2014 WE COULD HAVE RECEIVED 100% OF ALL COSTS FOR THE PROGRAM. This has cost the state untold millions of dollars, debt for many families struggling to pay for needed medical care, and loss of life for those who were unable to take advantage of the program.

Our legislators have decided to turn their backs on this program for a variety of reasons—none of which are valid. The Missouri Medicaid Expansion program could be easily integrated into the several other Missouri Medicaid programs resulting in untold tax dollars.

Missouri voters went through many steps to get this Amendment on the ballot. We know what we want for Missouri. We want to retain more federal dollars for Missourians and we want to provide health care coverage for more poor Missourians.

Please vote to approve Amendment 2. If you are unable to vote in person on August 4th, mail in your ballot, or go to the Camden County Clerk’s Office and vote an absentee ballot.

-Martha Woods Driskel, Retired

Previously employed as County Director, Missouri Division Family Services, Camdenton, Missouri