Health Insurance Watchdog Coming to Missouri

On June 12, 2013, in Uncategorized, by MOHAAAdmin

wendell potterHealth insurance companies continue to engage in deceptive practices to weaken consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act.

Nobody knows more about insurance practices than Wendell Potter, who left his job as a health insurance executive to become an industry watchdog and consumer advocate.

Please join Wendell for the insider perspective on what is at stake this year in health care reform and how to hold insurance companies accountable.

 

Topics of the forums will include:

  • What are the new health coverage opportunities?
  • What are insurance companies doing to maximize profits and how will that affect you?
  • How will some employers try to avoid providing you adequate coverage?
  • What’s next for Medicaid expansion in Missouri?

St. Louis:
Tuesday, June 18
7:00pm to 8:30pm
Central Reform Congregation
5020 Waterman Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63108

Columbia:
Thursday, June 20
7:00pm to 8:30 pm
Missouri United Methodist Church (Chapel)
204 S. 9th St.
Columbia, MO 65201

Both events are free and open to the public; refreshments will be served.

For more information or to RSVP contact:

Tiffany Ellis Hudson, Missouri Health Care for All
tiffany@mohealthcareforall.org, 877-383-8884

Brian Smith, Missouri Rural Crisis Center:
brian@morural.org; 573-449-1336

 

There’s a new study on the economic impact of states declining to take advantage of the federal dollars that come with a Medicaid expansion…and the news is not good for them.

States that choose not to expand Medicaid under federal health care reform will leave millions of their residents without health insurance and increase spending, at least in the short term, on the cost of treating uninsured residents, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

If 14 states decide not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act as intended by their governors, those state governments collectively will spend $1 billion more on uncompensated care in 2016 than they would if Medicaid is expanded.

In addition, those 14 state governments would forgo $8.4 billion annually in federal payments and an additional 3.6 million people will be left uninsured, according to findings published in the June edition of the journal Health Affairs.

“Our analysis shows it’s in the best economic interests of states to expand Medicaid under the terms of the federal Affordable Care Act,” said Carter Price, the study’s lead author and a mathematician at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

Missouri’s state legislature refused to move on Medicaid expansion during the just-completed legislative session. Not only did that leave uninsured Missourians high and dry, as this study shows, we’ll all pay a price. Read the RAND press release, as well as the full study, here.

 


Missourians to Hold Candlelight Vigil to Show Human Cost of

Medicaid Expansion Failure

…1,500 candles to represent annual Missouri lives that will be lost without expanded access to lifesaving health care…

 

Jefferson City, Mo. – Statement from Andrea Routh, Executive Director of the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance:

“While the Missouri General Assembly gleefully runs out the clock on a legislative session defined by ideological extremism and conspiracy theories, Missourians from all walks of life gather tonight to protest the body’s failure to expand Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of hardworking Missouri families.”

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Medicaid expansion would save the lives of 15,000 Missourians in the first decade of implementation – that’s 1,500 Missourians each and every year. The reason? Many low- to middle-income residents simply cannot afford health insurance coverage on the private market and either use emergency rooms instead of primary care physicians or forgo preventive care that could end up saving their lives.

Missouri would pay nothing to make the change in the first three years and in most of the years following that will likely make up its share with cuts to other health care programs that are no longer needed and new revenue from the jobs created by the expansion. Estimates are that this expansion would allow more than 250,000 uninsured Missourians to gain coverage and create more than 24,000 new jobs in Missouri. However, the state legislature must act to extend this critical coverage to Missouri families.

Information on tonight’s vigil:

What: Vigil for Medicaid Expansion with 1,500 luminaries covering the south side Capitol steps

When: Thursday, May 16, 2013, 8:30 p.m.

Who: Supporters of Medicaid Expansion, including faith leaders, students, consumers, and community leaders

Where: South lawn of the Capitol

Visuals: 1,500 candles lit to represent lives that would be saved by Medicaid Expansion

About the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance:

The Alliance is a statewide non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to quality affordable health care for all.  Since 2008, the Alliance has been working to build the consumer and community leadership required to transform the American health system.  With the belief that this transformation will happen when consumers are fully engaged and have an organized voice, The Alliance works in partnership with national, state and local consumer organizations, policymakers, and foundations, providing leadership and support to change the health care system so it serves everyone – especially vulnerable members of society.

 

News Release

Missouri Senate Rejects Medicaid Expansion Amendment to Budget Bill (and So Much More)

…move also a rejection of job growth, rural communities and Missouri’s uninsured population …

…St. Joseph hospital announces an end to ambulance service…

Jefferson City, Mo. – The full Missouri Senate yesterday took action on a host of budget bills previously approved by the state House of Representatives. Late last night that work included HB 11, the budget bill which appropriates funding for the state’s Medicaid program by way of the Department of Social Services. Sen. Jolie Justus (D-Kansas City) offered an amendment to the bill that would have funded a Medicaid eligibility expansion to families earning incomes just above the poverty limit. Despite massive support from business leaders, medical providers, law enforcement, mental health advocates, consumer groups and faith leaders, the amendment failed by a vote of 22-9.

“Last night marked a new low for the Missouri Senate,” said Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance Executive Director Andrea Routh. “In defeating this amendment they have also rejected broad, statewide consensus and overwhelming constituent support for expansion of Medicaid to include Missouri’s hardworking families that earn just above the federal poverty limit. They have rejected the business and medical communities who know just what 24,000 new jobs in the state and boosting Missouri’s insured population by 300,000 would mean, particularly to our rural communities. And they’ve rejected Missouri’s working families who are just one illness or medical bill away from financial ruin.”

The national health reform law allows states to expand eligibility for Medicaid to families earning income just above the poverty line (about $30,000 for a family of four). Currently, eligibility for able-bodied adults with children in Missouri ends after they make just $3,500 in a year – one of the most restrictive eligibility standards in the county.

But Medicaid expansion is also deeply important for other reasons. Missouri’s rural communities are served by a network of irreplaceable hospitals and clinics. These facilities are lifelines to the populations of rural Missouri and Medicaid expansion is critical to keeping their doors open. If our rural hospitals close, tens of thousands of Missourians will be left without a local hospital, leaving both the insured and uninsured with fewer options and resulting in further overcrowding of our remaining hospitals. Without the Medicaid expansion some rural health facilities could close or have to reduce services dramatically. In fact, Heartland Health – a hospital in St. Joseph – announced last week that it would be ending its ambulance service as a direct result of the legislature’s failure to act on Medicaid expansion.

Expanding Medicaid would also mean thousands of good jobs in Missouri – more than 24,000 in the first year, according to a new study by the University of Missouri.

Finally, expanding Medicaid would save lives.  With more than a quarter of a million Missourians to see improved access to health care, Medicaid expansion means not just improving lives but saving them as well.

The General Assembly’s deadline for completing the state’s operating budget is one week before the end of the legislative session.  The deadline this year is Friday, May 10.  The last day of the 2013 legislative session is Friday, May 17.

 

Upcoming Events

On April 4, 2013, in Uncategorized, by MOHAAAdmin

April 16 – Medicaid Rally in Jefferson City

Join community leaders, faith leaders, business leaders, elected officials and concerned citizens across Missouri for the Medicaid Expansion Lobby Day in Jefferson City on Tuesday, April 16! Activities to support Medicaid Expansion will take place in and around the Capitol from 8am-3pm, with a large rally on the Capitol lawn at 2pm.

For more information or to RSVP visit the Missouri Medicaid Coalition’s website.

June 5-6 – Missouri Teamwork Summit

The Missouri Teamwork Summit seeks to engage all health professions, consumer leaders, policy-makers, prominent officials and groups representing government, business, and consumer advocacy groups in “Charting a Course for Healthcare in Missouri.” We are all stakeholders in the future of nursing in Missouri!  Get involved… learn, discuss, be part of the change! More details and registration below:

Continue reading »

 

Please watch and share the Missouri Budget Project’s new video on why MO legislators should seize the opportunity to expand Medicaid now:

 

…committee sides with lone lobbyist over dozens of diverse supporters…

Jefferson City, Mo. – The following is the statement of Andrea Routh, Executive Director of the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance, regarding the Senate Appropriation Committee’s rejection of SB 349.

“As expected, dozens of business leaders, healthcare providers, ministers and members of the public turned out in support of SB 349 today. They know that investing in Missouri’s hardworking families is an investment in the state as a whole. Unfortunately, the committee sided with a lone opponent – a paid lobbyist – in rejecting the measure on a party line vote.”

“It’s disappointing that the committee would place their judgment above that of virtually every constituency in the state. The Medicaid expansion enjoys tremendous support from most Missourians, ranging from the hundreds of faith leaders who gathered at the capitol yesterday to the endorsement of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and many chambers throughout the state. The Senate had an opportunity, with Senator LeVota’s bill, to reconcile good policy with widespread support. It was an opportunity missed, but the fight is far from over. Advocates, business leaders, medical providers, consumer groups, and the general public will not rest until the General Assembly takes action to expand access to health care in our state while investing in our rural communities.”

About Medicaid expansion:

The health reform law allows states to expand eligibility for Medicaid to families earning income just above the poverty line (about $30,000 for a family of four). Currently, eligibility for able-bodied adults with children ends after they make just $3,500 in a year – one of the most restrictive eligibility standards in the county.

But Medicaid expansion is also deeply important for other reasons. Missouri’s rural communities are served by a network of irreplaceable hospitals and clinics. These facilities are lifelines to the populations of rural Missouri and Medicaid expansion is critical to keeping their doors open. If our rural hospitals close, tens of thousands of Missourians will be left without a local hospital, leaving both the insured and uninsured with fewer options and resulting in further overcrowding of our remaining hospitals.

Expanding Medicaid also means thousands of good jobs in Missouri – more than 24,000 in the first year, according to a new study by the University of Missouri. Medicaid expansion is a smart investment for Missouri jobs.

Finally, expanding Medicaid will save lives.  With more than a quarter of a million Missourians to see improved access to health care, Medicaid expansion means not just improving lives but saving them as well.

 

 

A timely reminder from the Missouri Department of Insurance:

Enrollment in the federal health insurance pool ends March 2

Jefferson City, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Insurance and the Missouri Health Insurance Pool (MHIP) are reminding Missourians with health issues that they have until Saturday to submit applications for pre-existing condition health plans in the federal health insurance pool.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced last week that enrollment in MHIP’s federal pool will end on March 2. Any applications received after this date will not be processed for the federal pool, but MHIP will continue to accept applications for enrollment in the state pool.

For more information about eligibility, federal or state plans, premiums and application forms, visit MHIP at mhip.org.

 

Statement from Andrea Routh, Executive Director of the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance:

Here is a riddle for you:  “How do you design a Medicaid program that costs more and covers fewer people?” Unfortunately, the answer is Representative Jay Barnes’ long-awaited Medicaid proposal. This proposal, introduced today, fails to meet the minimum standard that the federal government requires for expanding Medicaid program. Because the Barnes proposal only raises eligibility to 100% of FPL – instead of 138% as required – Missouri would not be able to receive the substantial federal match. To “transform” Medicaid in this manner would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars that support our rural hospitals and our safety net clinics.

Those Missourians above 100% of FPL would conceivably gain coverage in a forthcoming marketplace called the health insurance exchange.  This new marketplace provides tax credits or subsidies to consumers to make plans more affordable. It is a laudable goal to try and save taxpayers money but forcing Missourians into the exchange to buy private insurance that is subsidized by taxpayers actually cost more than covering them with Medicaid. Medicaid costs significantly less than private insurance.  Representative Barnes’ bill goes in the wrong direction, we can use our federal tax dollars to pay for Medicaid, or we can use considerably more tax dollars to pay for private insurance. Taxpayer dollars are taxpayer dollars and the Barnes plan unwittingly uses more than straight-forward Medicaid.

Read the full text of HB 700 here.

 

HB 627 heard in committee, marking the “official beginning of a conversation to expand access to health care for thousands of Missouri families…”  — Senate sees action as well

Jefferson City, MO – A diverse coalition of Missouri’s health care advocates applauded a hearing today in the House Government Oversight and Accountability committee of HB 627, which would expand the state’s Medicaid program to cover Missourians earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or about $32,000 for a family of four. SB 349, which contains the same provision for Medicaid expansion, was first-read in the Senate last week.

“This hearing in the House – and last week’s introduction of a Medicaid expansion bill in the Senate – mark the official beginning of a conversation to expand access to health care for thousands of Missouri families. We applaud Senator Paul LeVota and Representative Jake Hummel for starting this important conversation,” said Andrea Routh, Executive Director of the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance. “This is really simple: We have a Medicaid program in our state – we just need to expand it with these federal dollars.”

The Affordable Care Act contained a provision for states to expand their health care programs for low-income residents, but state legislatures must take action to do so. Missouri would pay nothing to make the change in the first three years and in most of the years following that will likely make up its share with cuts to other health care programs that are no longer needed and new revenue from the jobs created by the expansion.

This influx of health care dollars is expected to create 24,000 Missouri jobs in the first year alone and may prove a lifeline for dozens of rural hospitals and clinics that operate in underserved areas.