This commentary in the February 6 Kansas City Star eloquently makes the case for Medicaid expansion in Missouri. The author, Michael O’Dell, MD, MSHA, FAAFP, is KCMS past president and editor of our journal, Kansas City Medicine. Medicaid expansion will save money for the State of Missouri, help keep people healthy and working, and help keep rural hospitals open, he writes. Read the full article.
The recent news that elected leaders in Kansas have forged a bipartisan compromise to expand Medicaid in the Sunflower State after years at a political impasse should be a lesson for those of us here in Missouri.
As a family care doctor, I’ve seen firsthand how hardworking Missourians can slip through the cracks of our health care system. In our state, more than half a million adults are uninsured, mostly because they have jobs that simply don’t offer coverage. Earning too little to afford to buy their own insurance, they’re caught in the limbo of this coverage gap.
Hundreds of thousands of Missourians face choices between lifesaving care for their loved ones and themselves or their economic survival.
I’ve seen this happen firsthand. In one case, I treated a 55-year-old truck driver who was beset by escalating diabetes. His condition worsened, and he subsequently lost his commercial driver’s license — a requirement for his job.
It was the start of a 10-year physical and financial spiral. Without that license, my patient lost his employer-provided insurance, so he was unable to afford his daily medicine. Though he had been an active, productive member of society, his condition steadily declined. It eventually led to dialysis, an amputation and frequent hospitalizations. He died at 65.