Rural crisis center says Medicaid expansion might save tax payers

Related Story

COLUMBIA - More than 50 people came to a public meeting to hear a panel speak on rural health care Tuesday.

According to the health care organizer of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, Martha Stevens, rural communities have high rates of poverty and are uninsured.

"People that are uninsured, and don't have access to employer based insurance and also people in rural communities have higher rates of chronic disease," Stevens said.

According to Stevens, Medicaid expansion would save tax payers money because fewer people would seek care at emergency rooms.

Stevens said expansion would keep rural hospitals open, providing more jobs in Missouri and increasing economic development.

She also said if Medicaid expansion passes in the upcoming 2015 legislative session, it could provide health insurance to an additional 300,000 residents in Missouri, many of them from the rural areas.

Last year lawmakers failed to pass a Medicaid expansion bill. Republicans said the bill would have left the state vulnerable if the government was unable to meet its financial obligations.

Tuesday's panel consisted of five individuals including Dr. Karen Edison, Director of Health Policy at the University of Missouri, Aaron Swaney, Counselor for Family Health Center, Brian Smith, Rural Organizer for Missouri Rural Crisis Center and Jessica Adams, Outreach Coordinator at Missouri Budget Project.