COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Voters in Columbia were split Tuesday on whether the state should expand its Medicaid program.
Amendment 2, if approved, would expand the program in line with the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
If approved, the amendment would expand coverage to anyone between the ages of 19 and 65 years old whose income is 133 percent of the federal poverty level or below.
Individuals who made $17,608 would qualify while a family of four would qualify with a $36,156 income. Under current rules, adults can make only about $300 per month before losing benefits.
Leanna Clayton is president of the Columbia Pachyderm Club. She opposes Amendment 2 and said it comes down to one main thing.
"Money," Clayton said.
She said the state is already paying too much for the almost 40 percent share it pays for Medicaid services.
"There's no funding for this bill. Usually, any bill has to have a source of funding. This bill has none so it's going to take away from our schools. It's going to take away from our roads," Clayton said.
She said she also concerned now would not be a good time to expand Medicaid because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the economy.
"If we could go back with this bill the first of March there still was no money. Now there's even less money to pull to support anything like this," she said.
Casey Callans supports expanding Medicaid in Missouri, and said health care is a basic human need.
He said taking the federal money is a no brainer.
"The money is provided by the federal government to supply these programs, so like there's not reason why we shouldn't be taking it," Callans said.
If Missouri residents vote to expand Medicaid, the state would be responsible for covering 10 percent of the cost of the program, while the federal government would cover 90 percent.
Callans said the funding from the state could come from police funding or an increase in taxes. He said not having an answer to the funding is not a reason to vote down the amendment.
"It being hard is not enough reason to vote no on it," he said.
Clayton said she supports Medicaid assisting people with disabilities and low-income parents but the state should not help pay for health insurance for able-bodied individuals who can work.
She said she qualifies as low-income, but works more than 40 hours per week to stay afloat.
Clayton also said she believes if Medicaid is expanded it will raise fraud and people will take advantage of the system.
"Everybody's got to think, the government has my money. What are they doing with it that's benefiting out society as a whole," Clayton said.
Callans said he does not support the "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" mentality, and health care is one way people can avoid working themselves to death.
"Someone coming from the perspective of, 'I work sixty hours a week so why can't other people?' The idea behind universal health care and higher minimum wage and all that is so people don't have to work 60 hours," Callans said.