Government & Politics

Report says expanding Medicaid in Missouri would create 24,000 jobs

Missouri would get 24,000 new jobs if the state expands eligibility for its Medicaid program, a new report says, but the analysis is unlikely to sway the Republican-led legislature.

The Department of Economic Development projects the new jobs would bring in $9.9 billion in new wages and generate $402 million in state revenue over the next eight years.

Gov. Jay Nixon has asked lawmakers once again to use $1.7 billion next year from the federal government to expand eligibility for about 300,000 people. But the legislature has repeatedly rejected expansion.

Supporters say expanding Medicaid would create health care jobs by increasing access to care. The department’s study, released Friday, estimates that it would create 2,000 jobs in Kansas City and more than 4,000 in St. Louis County. The report says its numbers are conservative and “actual impacts may be more pronounced.”

Nixon’s plan would add adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line — a little less than $33,000 annually for a family of four — to the state’s Medicaid rolls.

That aligns with President Barack Obama’s health care law, which means the federal government will pick up the tab for the first few years. In future years, states must gradually start picking up 10 percent of the expansion costs.

Those arguments are unlikely to persuade Republicans who oppose the expansion. Republicans rejected an expansion in 2013 after a University of Missouri study projected job gains.

Republicans have said the state couldn’t afford expansion if the federal government reneged on its funding promises. They have also said the current system needs to be improved.

Rep. Noel Torpey, an Independence Republican, introduced legislation last week that would add some people to Medicaid while helping others buy health plans on the exchange marketplace.

A Senate committee also conducted a hearing on a plan to cover disabled and senior residents through “accountable care organizations.”