Supporters of Medicaid expansion in Missouri continue to work on swaying opponents in the General Assembly over to their side. While it appears they have a long way to go, and the clock is ticking on the legislative session, some key advocates say they may be close to turning the tide, at least when it comes to a scaled-back expansion that would be paired with reforms.
Missouri’s business community is getting more vocal in pushing the state’s legislators to expand Medicaid.
The St. Louis Regional Chamber held a panel Friday with business leaders who expressed frustration that the state is not capturing federal dollars to provide Medicaid coverage to more low-income residents.
This year, the state will pass up $2 billion dollars in federal funds.
After the panel discussion, St. Louis Regional Chamber President and CEO Joe Reagan said that Jefferson City needs to get the message.
For years in most states, Medicaid eligibility had been limited to disabled adults, seniors needing long-term care and very low-income parents with their children.
Then along came the Affordable Care Act. It was designed to grow health insurance coverage across the board. One of its tenets was to expand Medicaid coverage beyond the extremely poor and disabled to include all adults earning up to 138 percent of federal poverty levels.
But in 2012, the Supreme Court gave states the chance to opt out Medicaid expansion.
In the last six months alone, Missouri hospitals have eliminated nearly 1,000 jobs, imposed hiring freezes affecting another 2,145 positions and cut or delayed at least $50 million in building projects.
The blame is due, in part, to the General Assembly’s refusal to expand Medicaid.
The Missouri House has given first-round approval to next year's state budget -- after spending most of Tuesday on amendments to the FY 2015 budget, including two attempts to expand Medicaid. Both failed, and both were sponsored by state Rep. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is trying a new pitch in his quest to persuade state legislators to expand the state's Medicaid program and accept the $2 billion a year in extra federal money that would go along with it.
Nixon told supporters Thursday night in St. Louis County that the state’s current Medicaid program is so stingy that it discourages people from working — and could drive entry-level workers to other states that are expanding Medicaid.
Missouri now bars Medicaid coverage for anyone who earns more than $2,217 a year — which boils down to $42.63 a week.
State Sen. Rob Schaaf is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to health-care policy. But some believe that this staunch opponent of Medicaid expansion holds the key to ending the legislative impasse over it.
HANNIBAL, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster – now running for governor -- dove straight into the health-care debate Saturday when he attacked his former Republican colleagues for opposing Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act.
“The Affordable Care Act was a Republican idea, for goodness sakes,” Koster declared. “They’re just pissed that we stole it.”
Former U.S. Sen.Kit Bond paid a visit to Jefferson City Tuesday, hoping to persuade his fellow Republicans in the Missouri House and Senate to expand Medicaid coverage to more people.
Bond told a gathering of Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry members that he doesn't like Obamacare, and he called its rollout a "disaster." But he also said that accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid could enable Missouri to craft its own health-care solution.