Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is happy graduate students are getting health coverage, but she’s not happy about how it’s being delivered.
The federal government’s announced it’ll continue to support health insurance subsidies for graduate student working part time at the University of Missouri. A glitch in the Affordable Care Act would have done away with the coverage had a temporary fix not been extended.
McCaskill contends the students would’ve always been covered if state lawmakers had allowed Medicaid funding to be expanded in the state. “The Republican legislature in Jefferson City has decided that making a political point is more important than taking care of people” said McCaskill. “This is billions of dollars that Missourians pay in their federal taxes. And they’re have said ‘No, we don’t want it. We want you to send that money to New York or California. We don’t want that money in Missouri’”.
With the Medicaid money unavailable, McCaskill says she pressured the Treasury Department to give M.U. a temporary extension to cover the grad students. Last year, the school pledged to continue providing the subsidies, even though the glitch in the Affordable Care Act would’ve done away with them. Had the extension not been granted, the university would’ve been fined millions of dollars for offering non-compliant subsidies.
McCaskill thinks federal agencies have shown that they’re flexible in making adjustments to conform to the legislative intent of the health care law. But she contends the plight of the MIZZOU graduate teaching students demonstrates for how the Republican state legislature has let down citizens by rejecting Medicaid expansion. “These graduate students are just one example of many examples where we’ve had to scramble to try to get health care, when all the legislature would have to do is say ‘Well of course, we will be happy to take 90 cents of every dollar from the federal government that we pay for Medicaid.’”
Some Republicans think the federal government won’t follow through with the 90 percent funding it guarantees to states for Medicaid. They also say the state’s portion is far too expensive and would cause Missouri to fall into debt.
Democrats, including McCaskill and Missouri governor candidate Chris Koster, claim Medicaid expansion would bring billions of dollars and jobs into the state. McCaskill calls it ironic that a number of state Republican lawmakers who oppose Medicaid expansion, come from districts where endangered hospitals would be saved by the funding it would provide.
In addition to blasting GOP state legislators, McCaskill is defending President Obama’s signature accomplishment just as his administration has announced sharp increases in its cost to consumers. Premiums for a popular midlevel plan will increase 25 percent in the 39 states, including Missouri, which are served by the health care law’s federally run online market.
McCaskill claims most people won’t be affected by the surge in price. “The vast majority of the people that would see those increases on the healthcare exchanges are going to get subsidies” said McCaskill. “And they are not going to pay 25 percent more. The way the law is written, there is a limit to how much you have to pay out of pocket.”
Republican Senator Roy Blunt has noted most Missouri counties will have one health care provider through the Affordable Care Act next year, down from three. McCaskill has supported the law since its inception. Blunt has voted to repeal it.
In a release Monday, Blunt outlined a well-circulated Republican plan for replacing Obamacare. Among other things, it calls for expanding access to Health Savings Accounts and allowing consumers to buy insurance across state lines.