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Report: Waiting For Health Care In MO Becoming Health Risk For Some

February 27, 2009

Included in President Obama's newly released budget, approximately $634 billion would be invested over ten years for health care reform. An Institute of Medicine study says the crisis of the uninsured in Missouri is getting deeper and broader, where 729,000 are not covered. The study is published at the same time some Missouri legislators are hesitating to adopt part of the federal stimulus package for fear of increasing the budget problems.

Some Missourians, such as Stacy Applebee, say the waiting is a danger to their health. She lost her full-time time job because of a pregnancy complication. Now, she's a single mom of three, working part-time while finishing her college education. She has chronic back pain, but can’t afford to see a doctor, and she hasn’t seen one for two years. Applebee says the state desperately needs to make some changes.

"It’s not fair that I can’t go to the doctor because I can’t afford it or I can’t get my teeth fixed because I can’t afford it. I just think something needs to be done about that."

Andrea Routh, of the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance, says the state needs to take advantage of the stimulus package benefits, such as the Medicaid match and the S-CHIP children's health coverage extension. She says it’s time to let the stimulus package do what it was intended to do - stimulate the economy.

"So that, two years from now, we have more people working, more people with health care, more people paying their taxes to the state and we’re not in this same budget situation."

Currently, Missouri is one of only a few states expressing concerns about adopting the health aid contained in the federal stimulus package.

The study can be found at www.iom.edu/CMS/3809/54070/63118.aspx.

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MO