Regarding “‘It’s just shocking’: How Missouri Republican politics drove twin crises in Medicaid” (May 23): As a medical student at Washington University School of Medicine, I have met patients who have traveled several hours from rural areas to receive health care in St. Louis due to the lack of health services where they live. I have also seen providers not be able to provide optimal care for patients due to their lack of health insurance. It is imperative that the Missouri Legislature fund Medicaid expansion as it invests in both rural health care and the overall health of the state population.
Rural populations, who comprise 30.1% of the Missourians, have been shown to have an increased probability of being covered by Medicaid in other Medicaid expansion states. One study on Oregon’s health insurance program concluded that Medicaid expansion also provides tremendous health benefits to rural populations compared to their current safety net program.
Medicaid expansion has also been shown to improve health and health care access in other majority-Republican states. Following Medicaid expansion in Kentucky, there was an increase in health care insurance coverage for children with cancer. In Louisiana, Medicaid expansion was shown to significantly improve breast cancer care.
The adoption of Medicaid expansion in several states reveals the potential benefits and harms of Medicaid expansion. The data shows that Medicaid expansion would disproportionately benefit rural Missourians. Lawmakers should revisit this issue in order to support the health of rural Missourians.
Sangami Pugazenthi • St. Louis