Two separate Mo. House committees reject Medicaid expansion efforts

Feb 25, 2013

Medicaid expansion is dead for now in the Missouri House.  Two separate House committees voted down efforts Monday to expand Medicaid to 259,000 Missourians next year and 41,000 more in later years.

House Democratic Floor Leader Jake Hummel of St. Louis was the chief sponsor of a bill that would have fulfilled Gov. Jay Nixon’s call to expand Medicaid in Missouri. 

“We’re talking about the creation of 24,000 jobs in the state of Missouri, $8.2 billion in federal investment, $9.6 billion in additional economic activity,” Hummel said.

But Rep. Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City), who chairs the House Committee on Government Oversight, said the federal government wants to fund Medicaid expansion with borrowed money.

“The way I see this is sort of a Brinks truck theory of economic development, where we ask the federal government to send as many Brinks trucks full of borrowed cash from China as it can possibly gather together and dump it into Missouri’s economy,” Barnes said. 

Barnes’ committee rejected the Medicaid expansion bill on a party-line vote Monday.  He’s also one of the main sponsors of the Republicans’ alternate Medicaid proposal, which he says will be filed Tuesday. 

Meanwhile, a House Budget subcommittee approved on Monday the operating budgets of three state agencies that handle Medicaid claims, and did so without including the Governor’s proposed Medicaid expansion.

Meanwhile, the House subcommittee that oversees the budgets for the Departments of Health, Mental Health and Social Services voted to approve those agencies budgets without including Governor Jay Nixon’s call to expand Medicaid.  

“We can’t afford it,” said Sue Allen (R-Town and Country), who chairs that subcommittee. “It’s not rocket science. If we expand, taking federal dollars now, which I do not believe would not use some state [general revenue], even with what we’re told the feds would do now, there will be a time [when] the feds will back off.” 

It’s possible that House Democrats may try to amend the budget bills again when the full House Budget Committee takes them up in the coming weeks.