COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Missourians who qualify for the expanded Medicaid program might have to wait a year or more before being covered.
Missouri Hospital Association spokesman Dave Dillon said the experiences of other states indicated a year or more could pass before the newly qualified can get Medicaid.
"We are seeing states that adopted this last year or the year before who are only now beginning enrollment for those individuals," he said. "We will be doing everything we can to expedite it."
Missourians approved Amendment 2 in Tuesday's primary election. The measure will expand who is able to receive Medicaid, a state and federally funded program that provides health care for low-income people.
Amendment 2 will increase coverage to anyone between the ages of 19 and 65 years old whose income is 133 percent of the federal poverty level or below.
Dillon said passage will have a huge impact on 230,000 to 250,000 low-income Missourians.
"Overall this is a victory for low-income Missourians more than anyone else," he said. "This could allow hospitals to get individuals who need care throughout the state into this program so we can work with them to improve their health."
Dillion said if Missourians are worried about where the money will come from, they should expect no effect on their paychecks or tax bills.
"Individuals who are not eligible, if they are worried if taxes will go up, there is no reason that has to happen," he said. "All it takes is a commitment to doing this effectively on the state level to ensure it does not harm our state's ability to fund existing services."
However, Travis Brown, a representative from the group No on 2 in August, contradicted that idea in a statement Wednesday.
"When the dust settles, the costs will be clear, reminding Missourians to be
careful what you wish for," Brown said. "Voters have opened up the possibility of rural school consolidations, ushering in higher taxes on all citizens and forcing deeper cuts to vital state programs like education."
Dr. Robin Blount, vice president and chief medical officer for Boone Hospital Center, said Medicaid expansion will also allow rural hospitals to provide critical access for individuals.
"The expansion of Medicaid will provide more Missourians access to affordable health care, allowing them to seek diagnosis and treatment for chronic conditions before they develop late complications or become a medical emergency," Blount said.
There will be efforts by organizations including the hospital association and the Foundation for Health to contact individuals who are eligible for Medicaid.
"It doesn't require an individual to go to a state building to enroll, but health care providers are helpful in enrolling people in these programs that fit the eligibility," Dillon said.
Dillion said the hospital association has already started discussing implementation.
"It's going to take some time to put this program together," Dillion said.
Check back here or watch ABC 17 News at 5 and 6 for more on this developing story.