A Republican legislative leader warned Friday that expanding Medicaid carries a huge risk for Missouri.
“It will bankrupt the state,” Rep. Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee’s Summit and assistant majority floor leader, said at a Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast.
Expanding Medicaid coverage is a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, and Washington is offering states this incentive: It will pick up the full cost for added coverage for 2014 through 2016 and then taper down to 90 percent by 2020.
In Missouri, 900,000 people are on Medicaid, and expansion would add up to another 300,000. In 2014 alone, proponents argue, that would mean an influx of $1.8 billion into the state from Washington.
“It sounds really good at first blush because it’s free money. ... It’s not really free,” Cierpiot said.
Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, hospital groups, social-justice advocates and some chambers of commerce have come out in favor of the expansion (the Blue Springs chamber has taken no position). They argue that it’s right for uninsured Missourians, that it will help stabilize hospital finances and that Washington is offering good terms.
Republicans, who have large majorities in both houses of the General Assembly and whose leaders have rejected expanding the program, have sharply questioned that last part. Overall, Cierpiot said, the federal government picks up 65 percent of the cost of Medicaid. Over time, Republicans have argued, Congress will chip away at the 90 percent deal.
The result, Cierpiot said, will inevitably be Jefferson City providing less money for education.
“It’s just always competition down there for a finite amount of money,” he said.
Also at Friday’s breakfast:
• State Rep. Sheila Solon, R-Blue Springs, said the House this week easily approved her bill to create a special lottery ticket with proceeds for veterans homes and related programs. That effort has died in the Senate in each of the last two years. Now it goes to the Senate again.
“The senators that fought it previously are gone,” she said.
• State Rep. Donna Pfautsch, R-Harrisonville, continues to push for a resolution calling on the State Historical Society of Missouri to begin planning for the state’s bicentennial coming up in 2021.
• There’s a hearing this coming week for a bill sponsored by Rep. Jeanne Lauer, R-Blue Springs, to add $2 to court fees, with the money going to domestic violence shelters.
• Lauer’s bill to open up birth-mother medical records to people who have been adopted has moved through committee.