Thousands of Missourians struggling with behavioral health or substance abuse needs cannot access the health services they need to care for themselves and their families. By expanding Medicaid on August 4th, these Missourians will finally have health coverage so they can see doctors, afford prescriptions, and access behavioral health or substance abuse treatment.

States that have already expanded Medicaid have seen many benefits: people are less likely to skip medications because they can’t afford them, are more likely to seek regular care and report improvements in their health, and are more likely to receive substance abuse treatment.

Although Medicaid can be a vital source of care, Missouri has one of the most restrictive Medicaid programs in the country. For adults, only pregnant women, seniors, people with disabilities, or extremely low-earning custodial parents (those earning less than $4,656 per year for a family of three) are eligible for Medicaid.

As a result, one in four Missourians with mental illness report not getting the care they need, and some 124,000 Missourians with mental illness are uninsured.[1]

Missouri can do better.

On August 4th, Missourians have the opportunity to vote to expand Medicaid eligibility to 138% of the federal poverty level (about $18,000 per year for a childless adult, or about $30,000 for a family of three). About 230,000 working Missourians would gain health coverage, allowing them to access vital care.

According to the 2018 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly one in three of those who receive health insurance coverage through Medicaid expansion have a mental illness, substance use disorder, or both. Similarly, Missourians facing behavioral health needs will gain the coverage they need to thrive.

What’s more, voting #YesOn2 will boost our economy, create 16,000 new jobs, and keep rural hospitals open – so Missourians can receive the care they need in their own communities.

Voting Yes On 2 and expanding Medicaid will also reduce state general revenue costs for healthcare services, freeing up at least $100 million in state general revenue that could be used for other services like education or expanded substance abuse treatment.

The choice is clear. On August 4th, Vote Yes on 2 to expand Medicaid for Missourians across the Show-Me State.


[1] Mental Health America, The State of Mental Health in America 2020.

About the Author

Traci Gleason is Vice President, External Relations for Missouri Budget Project. She has worked to improve health and well-being through state and federal public policy for two decades, having considerable experience in both the public and non-profit sectors. She holds a Master of Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California-Berkeley and Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology and Mathematics from Creighton University.