Missouri voters made their voices heard on Aug. 4 as they cast ballots in favor of extending Medicaid benefits to include an additional 230,000 adults with low incomes. Amendment 2 passed with 53% of the vote.
“Expanding Medicaid to hardworking Missourians with low incomes is the right thing to do,” said Chris Krehmeyer, President and CEO of Beyond Housing, a nonprofit community development organization in North St. Louis County. “It’s the right thing at any time, but it is especially so right now. Our families and friends, colleagues and neighbors are hurting as they are entrenched the worst public health crisis our nation has faced in a century.”
The narrow approval comes as the state battles a surge in COVID-19 cases. As of Aug. 4, more than 52,000 Missourians have tested positive and 1,255 have died.
“Many of the very people working on the front lines in restaurants, grocery stores, nursing homes and hospitals are also those who fall within the health insurance gap,” said Krehmeyer. “They earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private insurance. This win means they will now receive the health coverage they need to live healthy, productive lives.”
Beyond Housing spent months rallying for the win, which would expand Medicaid coverage to workers earning less than $18,000 per year, including 36,000 Black Missourians who don’t have health coverage now. The nonprofit received a grant in June from Voices for Healthy Kids, an initiative of the American Heart Association, to help make this ballot measure a reality. The grant provided the much-needed funding and technical assistance to help get the measure over the finish line.
“Missouri took a big step toward improving health across the state with voters approving the expansion of Medicaid coverage,” said Denise Hooks-Anderson, MD, American Heart Association St. Louis Board President and assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Saint Louis University. “The American Heart Association supports expanding Medicaid because people living with low incomes are disproportionately affected by heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. Medicaid serves as the coverage backbone for the healthcare services these individuals need.”