Governor Jay Nixon has taken his case for Medicaid expansion to the GOP leadership in the legislature by highlighting support from business organizations.

Governor Jay Nixon delivers the 2013 State of the State address.  (Photo courtesy; UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Governor Jay Nixon delivers the 2013 State of the State address. (Photo courtesy; UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Nixon welcomed several of them during the State of the State Address.

“The Missouri Chamber of Commerce supports the Medicaid expansion, not because they’re big supporters of this president and his agenda but because it’s the smart thing to do.”

Nixon listed supporters including the chambers of commerce in Kansas City, Independence, Springfield, Lee’s Summit and St. Louis, the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, Kirksville Regional Economic Development, Inc. and Associated Industries of Missouri.

Nixon urged lawmakers to put the politics of healthcare aside, which drew laughter from the Republican side of the chamber.

In a pre-Address question-and-answer session with the media, Nixon says convincing Republican leadership is an ongoing education process that he thinks is making progress.

“We see a continuing, growing coalition of folks that understand that this is a right business decision to make. Missouri is paying $1.8 billion in taxes. Sending those to Washington and then standing here quietly and allowing those dollars to be spent in other states is not a good business decision.”

Republicans say one reason not to expand Medicaid is a lack of faith that Congress will keep its funding promises, that would make expansion cost-free to Missouri for three years. Nixon suggests including a provision to roll back expansion in that case.

House Speaker Tim Jones is skeptical.

“I’ve never seen a government program that’s increased go back the other way … it’s an entitlement, and entitlements are extremely difficult to ratchet back.”

Nixon’s budget proposal would use $46 million federal dollars from Medicaid expansion. He says proceeding with expansion would bring $5.7 billion to the state over the next three years and create 24,000 jobs in 2014.