As millions of people continue battling issues with the Affordable Care Act, others are worrying about whether they'll continue to have healthcare at all.
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - As millions of people continue battling issues with the Affordable Care Act, others are worrying about whether they'll continue to have healthcare at all.
Not everyone qualifies for the new, Healthcare Exchange Marketplace, and many people in that group don't qualify for Medicaid either. The problem is especially bad in Missouri, where legislators have voted against expanding Medicaid. That means the state is missing out on around $4 billion in federal funding.
But Missouri Republican leadership says expanding the current Medicaid system is not the way to serve the state's most vulnerable citizens.
"If you don't pass this expansion, you will have effectively killed me," said Erika Neal as a message to Missouri lawmakers.
Erika works for a struggling non-profit, and doesn't qualify for the new insurance exchange. But since she doesn't have children, she doesn't qualify for Medicaid either. She found out she wouldn't have insurance less than two months after undergoing surgery for ovarian cancer.
"The extreme reaction was, 'I'm going to die,'" said Erika.
After losing her insurance, Erika went through 2012 without any testing following her surgery.
"The guessing game, the wondering, the not knowing, if [the cancer is] back or not is horrific," she said.
This year, Erika gained coverage through the Gateway to Better Health program. It's funded through a grant that lasts through next year. But she's afraid of what will happen if the grant runs out and Medicaid hasn't been expanded.
"The frustration of people saying, 'No, we won't expand it,' to toe a party line just exacerbates the horror and the frustration," said Erika.
In a statement, Republican Speaker of the Missouri House Tim Jones said, ""While the Republican super majority in the Missouri General Assembly has refused to accept a misguided and inappropriate expansion of the broken Medicaid system, we have continued to work diligently to transform the system so that it capably serves those who are truly in need. The undeniable truth is that we do want to ensure access to quality health care for our most vulnerable citizens. We simply refuse to put our stamp of approval on a massive expansion of a badly broken Medicaid system that fails to provide basic, baseline care to current participants, threatens to severely slash our education budget for our children and is a terrible value for taxpayers."
Jones added, "The argument for pumping billions of new tax dollars into the Medicaid system takes on a different light when you look at the facts of how poorly the system performs. Instead, the current Medicaid system's many inadequacies make it even more imperative that we place our emphasis on actual, meaningful reforms that will improve health care outcomes for those the system is meant to serve. Others may think slapping a billion-dollar-Band-Aid on a broken system that continues to be exacerbated by the daily failings of ObamaCare makes sense, but we see any plan that fails to emphasize true reform as a monumental waste of taxpayer dollars."
Missouri Senate Leadership also released a statement which you can view here.