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Looking Beyond Election: MO Health Care Bailout?

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 By Laura Thornquist/Steve Powers, Contact
October 27, 2008

St. Louis, MO - The credit crisis is making health coverage a tough pill to swallow for small business owners, yet those are the very employers expected to keep the economy alive. With the election only eight days away, some Missouri advocates are poised to discuss potential remedies with whomever is elected.

Steve Hendrickson, who owns Dynamic Porch and Patio in Independence, employs 15 people. As happened to many other small companies, his line of credit was recently pulled, and he's digging deeper into the cash register to provide health care for his workers.

"Honestly, it hasn't been affordable for quite a number of years, and it just continually gets worse."

The pressure on small business is having a ripple effect in the state, as more than 730,000 Missourians don't have medical insurance. Amy Blouin, executive director of the Missouri Budget Project, says that's slightly higher than in 2001, when the last economic downturn hit, and health insurance premiums have risen 75 percent since then.

"More Missourians could become uninsured if small businesses aren't provided with some sort of venue to provide health care coverage to their employees."

After the election, some Missouri health care advocates plan to ask Congress for a health insurance bailout to enhance Medicaid, and to ensure that families in Missouri have coverage through this economic crisis.

Small business owner Hendrickson says that in general he doesn't believe in government "meddling," as he calls it, but if anybody's going to get help, it might as well be the uninsured.

"Since they seem to be bailing out everyone else, it probably wouldn't hurt."

More information from the Missouri Budget Project is available at www.mobudget.org.

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