Democratic Governor Jay Nixon is using a new tactic in an attempt to persuade Republican state lawmakers to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid: public safety.
On Monday, Nixon brought out St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, who said expanding Medicaid to another 50,000 Missourians who need mental health treatment will improve public safety.
To back that assertion, Nixon showcased a new study put forth by the Missouri Department of Mental Health. The study, which Nixon commissioned, says that expanding Medicaid will strengthen public safety by improving access to treatment for those with mental illness.
"Of the 300,000 additional Missourians who will be covered under our plan (for expanding Medicaid), 50, 000 need mental health treatment," Nixon said. "That's one in six."
Nixon is looking for anything that could sway the GOP-controlled state legislature, which has so far dismissed expanding Medicaid.
“Without an expansion to Medicaid, hospitals will have to cut inpatient services for people with severe mental illness," Nixon said. "Illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression: the very people who need these services the most.”
But this information could prove to be purely academic, as Republicans have so far expressed complete disinterest in accepting the federal dollars. In fact, after conservative outlets reported that conservative leadership could possibly "cave" on expansion, Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey took to Twitter to clarify.
Don't be a lemming. Just because some idiot posts on his blog that I sponsored a bill doesn't make it so. Have been n remain opposed to ACA.
— Tom Dempsey (@senatordempsey) March 4, 2013
Although Republican budget writers in the House have so far left out expansion funding, Nixon told reporters after the speech that he's still hopeful.
"We're seeing solid discussions with members and we're moving forward," Nixon said. "If we don't move forward, Missourians are going to continue to pay taxes, only those taxes are going to be used by Governor Rick Scott in Florida, or Governor John Kasich in Ohio, or Governor Snyder in Michigan or Governor Brewer in Arizona for healthcare improvements in their states. And I think Missourians are coming to a strong conclusion that we want our tax dollars spent in the Show-Me State."
All the governors Nixon listed are Republican governors who have announced that they will accept federal money for Medicaid expansion.
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel