One of the major conflicts in the legislature this year is the question of whether tens of thousands more low-income Missourians will be covered by the Medicaid program. The federal healthcare overhaul law tells states that Washington will pay 100% of the costs for the first three years of an expanded Medicaid program if states set up the program.  The law says states will never be required to pay more than 10% of the costs. 

Republicans who have resisted the healthcare reform law throughout its existence are rejecting the expansion.  Senate Leader Tom Dempsey says he can’t trust a federal government that has major unsolved financial problems that it keeps putting off solving.

                                        AUDIO: dempsey   :16

Democrats such as Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus say the program would be a major boost to the economy, in addition to serving thousands of people.

                                       AUDIO: Justus :15 

She hopes to turn some Republicans around.

                                       AUDIO: Justus :17 

Dempsey says Republicans might take another look if the federal government shows it can make hard decisions about spending cuts during the five-month legislative session.

                                        AUDIO: Dempsey :31 

State budget officials say the expansion would save the state $250 million in the next three years.