Republican and Democrat leaders have staked two very opposing positions on Medicaid expansion on day one of the legislative session.
During remarks on the floor of the House, Minority Leader Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis) tied the issue of Medicaid expansion to job creation.
“According to a study commissioned by the Missouri Hospital Association, if the state expands Medicaid eligibility to comply with the Affordable Care Act, it will create 24,000 jobs in 2014 alone.”
Hummel supports Governor Jay Nixon’s position, that expanding Medicaid would extend health care to 220,000 Missourians with the federal government covering the cost of expansion for the first three years.
House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) in his opening day address made a strong statement in opposition to Medicaid Expansion, saying it threatens funding for schools.
“One of the top concerns we must address this session is protecting education funding from continued encroachment by the governor’s welfare expansion funding demands. It is irresponsible to place the immediate benefits of entitlement funding ahead of our education system. The students of today will become the job creators and business and community leaders of tomorrow. Therefore, our children deserve access to the highest quality education available, but our schools will not be able to provide this level of funding if it’s consistently slashed and threatened to the bone to fund ever-increasing entitlement systems full of waste, fraud and abuse.”
Jones says his party is more interested in Medicaid reform, and says several Republican lawmakers are working on building on changes made during the administration of Governor Matt Blunt.
He says the federal money that would come to Missouri to support expansion isn’t free.
“Right off the bat it’s going to cost the federal government $2 million and because the federal government is borrowing … I believe it’s 40 cents of every dollar to support its budget … that is either coming from increasing debt … we’re going to be skyrocketing over $16 trillion shortly … and if it doesn’t come from increasing more debt, it’s going to come from increasing taxes on Missourians from the federal side.”
Hummel says he understands the argument that Congress is not paying the bills, but counters, “The Affordable Care Act is in place. Other states are going to get this money if we don’t get it. It’s going to go to Illinois, it’s going to go to perhaps Kansas, Iowa … we don’t know. These are our tax dollars that we’re already sending up.”
Governor Nixon says he will include Medicaid expansion in the budget proposal that he will reveal with his State of the State Address on January 28. The state legislature actually creates the budget.