The leaders of the Republican majorities in the legislature say they will hold their positions on Medicaid expansion when the session resumes in ten days. Republicans in both chambers have voted down several attempts to accept more than $800 million dollars to expand Medicaid eligibility in the state.
Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles) says what his party wants is the flexibility to reform Medicaid.
“We do not believe it’s prudent to double down on a broken system. Just a couple of weeks ago we recieved notice from one of our bond rating agencies that we were being rated negatively because of our coupling with the federal government, and so to become even more reliant on the federal government would send Missouri down the wrong path.”
House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) says he wants to be sure the state has the money to pay for its other needs rather than pumping money into what he considers a “broken” Medicaid system.
“I personally do not view healthcare as a right. I think it is something that the state should take upon as an obligation if they’re able to do so, and the emphasis has to be on providing healthcare to the disabled, to children and to seniors, not to able-bodied adults.”
Both leaders say Medicaid reform has to be a part of the discussion. Governor Jay Nixon on Thursday tweeted that he hopes Senate Republicans are serious about Medicaid reform.
Assistant Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty (D-Kansas City) says her caucus is frustrated that Medicaid expansion continues to be rejected by Republican leadership.
“As we have said before, that creates 24,000 jobs, we’re looking at $8.2 billion in federal investment in the state, $9.6 billion in additional economy activity and as many as 300,000 more Missourians to have access to care.”
Jones says Governor Nixon has not offered a plan to pay for Medicaid if the federal government fails to cover its portion.
The legislature is on Spring Break until March 25.
Watch the post-session media conferences with Jones and Dempsey (top) and McCann Beatty (bottom) below, courtesy of Jonathan Lorenz, Missouri House Communications: