Gov. Jay Nixon wants to pave the way for 300,000 additional Medicaid recipients in Missouri

Opening Medicaid to 300,000 more Missourians would bring $5.7 billion in federal funds to the state government over the next three years, Gov. Jay Nixon said during a recent visit to Rolla to discuss expanding the program.

“Will we bring the tax dollars we send to Washington back home to Missouri?” Nixon asked. House Republicans have voted not to participate in the Medicaid expansion called for in the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Nixon said if Missouri does not participate in the expansion plan, “other states get the benefits, we get the bill.”

Speaking at the Technology Development Center at Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Innovation Park, Nixon was joined by law enforcement officers from throughout the Rolla area.

He referred to them at one point in his speech, noting that the Missouri Department of Mental Health has reported turning down the federal dollars available for the Medicaid expansion “will limit acess to mental health services and weaken public safety.”

The law enforcement officers, he said, will find more mentally unstable individuals on the streets, which he said will mean “more dangerous people out there, challenged and needing help.”

The governor repeated themes he has stressed in speeches throughout the state:

• The expansion will be “at no cost to the state.”

• Non-partisan business groups throughout the state, including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, support this plan.” Chambers of commerce in Boliver, Branson, Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Sedalia, Springfield, St. Louis, West Plains and other cities also support the expansion.

• “Last fall, a study by the University of Missouri found that bringing these dollars back to Missouri to strengthen Medicaid would create 24,000 new jobs in Missouri in 2014 alone.”

• “Low-income Missorians who can’t afford health insurance and earn less than 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level – or $32,500 a year for a famiy of four – would be eligible for coverage.”

• “Republican governors in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and Ohio are putting partisan politics aside and embraching this opportunity to strengthen Medicaid and create jobs in their states.”

Nixon said several times that Medicaid expansion is both”the smart thing to do and the right thing to do.” He also said that it is a business decision, not a political decision, for “Strengthening Medicaid will strengthen our economy.”

The governor asked those who attended to take action by calling their legislators.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t need your help,” the governor said.

Republican House and Senate members oppose the Medicaid expansion for a number of reasons, foremost being the $16 trillion federal debt already on the books that will grow with the Medicaid expansion.

Related to that, the GOP is concerned that because of the expense, the federal government will change it in midstream by cutting or closing programs, leaving the state on the hook to pay for the expanded services.