St. Louis Public Radio News
4:32 am
Mon March 9, 2009

Nixon, hospitals unveil deal to fund Medicaid expansion

St. Louis, MO – Governor Jay Nixon says he's reached an agreement with Missouri's 152 hospitals to fund an expansion of Medicaid.

Hospitals would see an increase in their provider tax, which would generate $52 million, allowing the state to draw down $93 million in federal funds. The combined $145 million would allow the state to provide coverage for residents who make up to 50 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $11,000 for a family of four. The current income limit is 20 percent of the poverty level.

"Providing health care to 34,000 more Missourians at no extra cost to taxpayers isn't just the right thing to do four our neighbors," Nixon said. "It's the smart thing to do for our economy."

The hospital tax increase does not need legislative action, but the income expansion will, and Republicans like House budget chairman Allen Icet of Wildwood appear reluctant to cooperate with the governor.

"If this is the only thing the governor wants to do, okay, we may be able to talk about but, I'd be surprised if the governor doesn't come back next year and say, okay, I got, whatever this is, the first step for 2010, for 2011, here's the second step," Icet said.

Nixon campaigned heavily on a promise to restore Medicaid cuts approved by Republicans and then-governor Matt Blunt in 2005. Republicans last week blocked an expansion of a federal program that provides coverage to children.