The future of the Medicaid expansion debate seems clear with the state legislature dominated by Republicans who oppose it, but Democrats say they’ll keep pushing.
Governor Jay Nixon has told reporters the expansion of Medicaid remains important and says he will push for it. Asked to respond, House Speaker-Elect John Diehl first turns and draws reporters’ eyes to his 117 fellow House Republicans.
“Take a look at the elections,” says Diehl. “I think clearly on the federal level Obamacare has been rejected by the voters of this country and I think if you take a look at the elections that happened [Tuesday], I think it’s also been rejected by the voters of this state.”
Democrats have only 45 members in the state House, but the caucus’ leader Jacob Hummel says they will also keep pushing for expansion.
“Absolutely. It’s the right thing to do. I think it’s crucial,” says Hummel. “You’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people that don’t have access to health insurance because they don’t qualify to be on the exchange and it’s really a shame. The state’s losing a lot of money.”
Diehl says Republicans will look for ways to reform Medicaid and Hummel says that’s something his party has always been willing to talk about.
“There’s no doubt that the Medicaid system that we have now to implement the low threshold of eligibility right now is broken,” says Diehl. “That has to be fixed, it wastes money, it doesn’t provide the medical services that are needed … and so yes, I think we’re going to probably try to address that.”
Hummel says he’s always been willing to talk reform, but wants to see some action.
“Last year we weren’t allowed to vote on it. It was brought up as kind of a circus show,” says Hummel. “I think it would have passed last year if we would have had a vote on it out of the House. Getting it out of the Senate is obviously another matter.”