By Nadia Ramlagan
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri voters will have a chance to decide whether the state should expand Medicaid in Tuesday, August 4 primary election.
Amendment 2 would modify the Missouri Constitution to extend Medicaid coverage to adults ages 19 to 64, with incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty level.
Emily Kalmer, Missouri government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said the amendment would benefit cancer patients and people with chronic health conditions who may have lost jobs in the COVID-19 crisis.
She pointed out lower-income Missourians would also be able to access early detection and diagnostic tests through Medicaid.
“So, one good example of that is colorectal cancer,” Kalmer said. “We know Medicaid expansion increases colorectal cancer screening. Here in Missouri, the screening rate for the uninsured is about 35%, compared to 69% overall.”
She added the earlier a cancer is detected, the more opportunities there are for treatment.
Missouri’s Medicaid program doesn’t cover most adults without children, and the eligible income threshold is among the lowest in the nation. Opponents of expansion include the Missouri Farm Bureau, which has said it will “cripple” the state budget.
Kalmer said Medicaid expansion also would allow cancer patients to take part in the monitoring and follow-up care they need to remain cancer free.
“We know it’ll help reduce the number of uninsured Missourians across the state,” she said. “And when more Missourians have access to health insurance, they have more access to things like doctors’ visits and cancer treatment; all the things we know help cancer patients have a better chance in their fight.”
Groups like Families USA estimate expanding Medicaid would give more than 350,000 uninsured Missourians access to health coverage.