The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 8, 2013

Your View: Improving Southwest Missouri’s economy

By Irene Marshall
Special to The Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — Medicaid expansion will not only provide health care for uninsured adults in Southwest Missouri, but it will also be an extraordinary job creator in our corner of the state.

The recent study “The Economic Impacts of Medicaid Expansion on Missouri” (University of Missouri School of Medicine, November 2012) explains what will happen in the “Southwest Workforce Investment Area,” which consists of Barton, Jasper, Newton, McDonald, Dade, Lawrence and Barry counties. The study forecasts economic impacts for the years 2014-2020.

In these seven counties, more than 20,000 uninsured residents, ages 19-64, with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, would become eligible for health care in January 2014 if the Legislature approves Medicaid expansion. Those who enroll will have preventive care, early diagnosis and intervention in illnesses, mental health care and continuing medical attention.

This expansion of medical services, along with related economic activities, will create a need for more workers, most of them well paid. Starting next year and just in our seven counties alone, there will be an estimated 1,769 new jobs! Unemployment, which was 7,641 in 2011, will be reduced by 23 percent. Payroll for the new jobs is projected to be as high as $69 million per year.

The new employees will be buying groceries in their local communities, spending money at restaurants and at retailers, and shopping for cars. The annual impact on the local economy will be substantial. State and local tax revenues will be boosted through sales and income taxes.

In the years 2014-2020, there will be more than enough revenue statewide to cover Missouri’s contribution to the cost of Medicaid expansion, a contribution that will never be more than 10 percent of the expense of providing care. For details, see the University of Missouri study, which is easily accessible online.

It would be financial foolishness not to want all these new jobs and not to accept such a huge injection of money into the economy of our seven counties, while at the same time insuring many of our residents who do not have regular health care. A healthier population benefits everyone.

With your help, this can happen. Tell your legislators this is surely the way to go.

Irene Marshall