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(Jefferson City) – Rural hospitals and lawmakers in Missouri are at odds over the legislature’s decision not to expand Medicaid in Missouri, and both sides are urging people to get involved in the discussion.

Wes Murray, CEO of Texas County Memorial Hospital in Houston, told Ozark Radio News that their number of uncompensated care cases, which are written off as losses by the hospital due to the patient’s inability to pay, have recently skyrocketed:

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Murray says that this has been causing financial issues for Texas County Memorial Hospital this year:

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Kim Thompson, Chief Financial Officer with Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains, says that Medicaid expansion would help the working poor in their service area:

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Thompson added that when people don’t have insurance coverage, it raises the amount of time and care given when they finally check in to the hospital:

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She also shared how much of a bill is covered by Medicaid, adding that last year, Ozarks Medical Center wrote off some $26 million worth of care:

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Thompson also added that the state is missing out on funding that could have helped Missouri residents, but went elsewhere:

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LOCAL SENATOR SPEAKS OUT

Senator Mike Cunningham

Senator Mike Cunningham

33rd District Senator Mike Cunningham (R-Rogersville), whose district includes Texas County Memorial Hospital and Ozarks Medical Center, also spoke with Ozark Radio News, saying that he’s in favor of Medicaid expansion, but only if the system is reformed:

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Cunningham also explained why Medicaid expansion wasn’t considered this past year, and why prospects for this year don’t look great either:

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He added that a main problem is that emergency rooms across the state see cases where emergency help may not be needed:

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Cunningham hopes that in the future, the Missouri Hospital Association will work with the legislature in finding a common ground for Medicaid expansion:

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Wes Murray added his sentiments on the Missouri Legislature’s inability to act:

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Both Murray and Thompson urge citizens to contact their local legislators and voice their opinion on Medicaid expansion.

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