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Health Care Ruling Celebrated in MO, but Fight for Coverage Continues

While celebrating the Supreme Court's ruling, advocates for health-care access are still fighting to expand Medicaid in Missouri. Credit: kconnors/morguefile.com
While celebrating the Supreme Court's ruling, advocates for health-care access are still fighting to expand Medicaid in Missouri. Credit: kconnors/morguefile.com
June 26, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold health-insurance discounts in states such as Missouri with federally facilitated marketplaces is being hailed as a major victory - but not the end of the battle to expand access to health care across the state.

Since nearly 90 percent of Missourians who are enrolled in marketplace plans receive discounts on their premiums, said
Jen Bersdale, executive director of the nonprofit group Missouri Health Care for All, the ruling means they won't have to make choices between keeping their insurance or keeping food on the table.

"The intent of this law was clear," she said. "Congress intended this law to help people be able to afford health insurance, be able to access health insurance. We've talked to so many consumers who are relieved to know that their health insurance is safe."

Despite the ruling, Bersdale said, the state's failure to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act still leaves far too many Missourians uninsured.

The White House praised the ruling as proof the Affordable Care Act is here to stay, while Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the dissenting votes, called it evidence of favoritism on behalf of the court.

Bersdale called the Supreme Court's decision a great day for Missouri, but said the real celebration will occur when the state takes action to close the so-called coverage gap.

"We do have 300,000 Missourians who have really been left out in the cold by our legislators refusing to expand Medicaid," she said.

Another open-enrollment window for the Affordable Care Act will open this fall, she said. However, anyone who has experienced a major life change, such as marriage or a baby, could qualify sooner. More information is online at Healthcare.gov.

The high court's decision is online at supremecourt.gov.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO