Finally, Gov. Jay Nixon supports Medicaid expansion
The Kansas City Star
Game on in Missouri.
Gov. Jay Nixon announced today he’ll include federal funding for a massive Medicare expansion in next year’s budget.
“It’s the smart thing to do and it’s the right thing to do,” said Nixon, a Democrat.
Accurate on both counts. Expanding Missouri’s ridiculously low Medicaid limit for adults to 133 percent of the poverty level, as called for in the Affordable Care Act, would bring a huge influx of federal money into the state — more than $8 billion over seven years, according to estimates.
Yes, that would be taxpayer money. And therefore it’s not free. But as Nixon noted, Missourians are paying federal taxes anyway. Why pay the money to have it go to other states and get nothing out of it?
Nixon’s announcement puts him on a collision course with the Republican supermajority in the legislature. Leaders have said they want no more expansions of expensive federal programs in Missouri. Also, they detest all aspects of Obamacare.
Nixon has logic on his side, though. Getting people into a health insurance plan is good public policy. Right now uninsured Missourians report to hospitals, which have to provide them with emergency care. But the government money to reimburse hospitals for uncompensated care is about to be phased out. That would leave Missouri hospitals with a mandate to care for sick people and no way to pay. You can bet rural Republican lawmakers will be hearing from their local hospitals.
Nixon also for once has the powerful Missouri Chamber of Commerce in his corner. The chamber is no fan of Obamacare, but its leaders are too business-friendly to turn down a massive economic development boost for the state.
The Medicaid issue should make for a very lively upcoming legislative session. My guess is Republicans are going to be looking for some wiggle room. It won’t be easy to explain to constituents that you said no to more jobs, no to saving hospitals from bankruptcy and no to hundreds of thousands of Missourians who can’t afford health care on their own.