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Letter to the Editor: Time to expand Medicaid

To the Editor:

Healthcare matters to Missouri voters, and the opioid crisis cannot be ignored.

Attempts to repeal and sabotage healthcare and protections of the Affordable Care Act cost 128,000 Missourians to lose their health insurance in 2017.

And, of course, Missouri’s uninsured rate is already higher than in other states because our state has not yet expanded Medicaid. About 12 million Americans have gained coverage under the expansion in 33 states. About 352,000 Missourians would gain access, according to healthinsurance.org, if Medicaid was expanded, and 700 lives would be saved.

In a bipartisan effort to target the U.S. opioid crisis, now more than ever, is the time to expand Medicaid. Under Obamacare, Medicaid expansion is effective. It already covers addiction treatment for nearly everyone who is poor and needy, according to the Associated Press.

In effect, Medicaid expansion states had a running start on the opioid crisis, while states, without the extra Medicaid funding, play catch up.

Non-expansion states deal with more uninsured populations and are more likely to need addiction treatment coverage. In contrast, states with Medicaid expansion use the grants to create new infrastructure asking providers to invest in new personnel, new systems and new ways of doing things. Medicaid covers 4 out of 10 adults under age 65 with opioid addiction, more than all private insurance combined.

In November, Idaho, Nebraska and Utah will decide whether their states should expand Medicaid. Montana voters will decide on maintaining that state’s expansion.

The AP analysis found states that did not expand Medicaid spent $2,645 per patient on opioid addiction treatment. Expansion states spent $1,581 per patient for treatment. States that did not expand Medicaid spent $1,170 per person served on recovery support services. Expansion states spent $446 per person served on recovery.

Medicaid expansion helps stem the opioid crisis.

Ed Shew

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