Former Senator Kit Bond Makes Case for Medicaid Expansion

Published 02/25 2014 05:47PM

Updated 02/25 2014 05:56PM

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Former Missouri senator Kit Bond says he believes the state should accept federal money to expand Medicaid, during a Chamber-sponsored panel discussion in Jefferson City on Tuesday.

Bond says his republican colleagues in the state legislature should not allow their disdain for the Affordable Care Act to cloud their judgment on adding hundreds of thousands of Missourians to the rolls for subsidized health care.

Bond has been hired the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry to convince republican state lawmakers that expansion is a good idea.

During the discussion, Bond says Obamacare has destroyed the nation's healthcare safety net by cutting the federal funds hospitals use to treat uninsured patients.

“We need a common sense, Show-Me State solution,” says Bond.

Conservatives in the legislature have refused to be seduced by the billions of dollars in new federal funding attached to Medicaid expansion.

"Missouri can't afford to leave two billion dollars a year on the table,” says Bond.

But skeptics do not trust Uncle Sam not to dump the full cost on the state down the road.

"They don't have a track record that demonstrates to me that they can keep their promise,” says Senator Tom Dempsey, Senate president pro tem.

Bond says there are ways around that.

"For example, we can put in place a circuit breaker that will protect our state if the federal government doesn't hold up its end of the bargain,” says Bond. “We can take the savings that Missouri will get from shifting premiums onto the federal rolls and put it in a budget protection fund that will be available if numbers turn south in a bad year in the future.”

Bond's biggest challenge may be the election year, when republicans from conservative districts might fear opposition from within their own party for giving even an inch to the Obama White House on this issue.

Bond says the people at home need to recognize the difference between the Medicaid that exists now and the program that will exist under expansion.

"It provides federal money to put people in private-sector health care programs,” says Bond.

Bond says lawmakers also must recognize that taking a stand on principle against growth in government does nothing but send Missouri’s money elsewhere.

It's the same argument Missouri’s democrat governor has been making for the past couple of years.

(courtesy KRCG)

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