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Missouri Medicaid expansion begins, eligible man expresses relief

Missouri Medicaid expansion
Posted at 5:03 PM, Oct 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 21:04:34-04

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — An Independence fast food worker says his ability to sign up for Medicaid is a life changer.

"It feels like a light has come on," Bill Thompson said. "It's just a big relief."

At 50-years-old, Thompson said he can't afford health insurance on his salary of $18,500 a year.

"Many days I worked sick or with whatever problem it was," Thompson said. "I suffer from arthritis, so a lot of times I just deal with my pain."

Thompson said, when his health was worse, he would up end in the emergency room. He would leave the ER with a large bill.

"I owe $20,000 in medical debt," Thompson said.

Starting on Friday, Oct. 1st, Thompson and other low income Missourians ages 19 to 64 years old can apply for Medicaid. The federal government will reimburse the state for 90% of the cost of expansion.

Making expansion a reality in the Show Me State involved many ups and downs for supporters.

In the 2020 election, Missouri voters approved a Medicaid expansion, but the Republican-controlled state legislature refused to provide funding. In response, three Missouri women, who qualified for coverage, sued the state.

A Cole County judge ruled that Missouri Gov. Mike Parson acted lawfully when he refused to expand Medicaid. However, the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the decision and the Medicaid Expansion was allowed to go through.

Thompson said he has worked his fast food job everyday during the pandemic and feels health insurance is the least that could be provided.

"It's a life changer for people like me who work hard everyday," Thompson said "We deserve healthcare."