The Missouri House Speaker and House Democrats view the issue of Medicaid expansion differently.
House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, says Medicaid expansion would hurt education, by taking dollars out of the classroom.
“To do Medicaid expansion in Missouri would require a ten percent match for the 90 percent draw down,” Haahr tells Capitol reporters. “That would blow a sizable hole in our general revenue budget.”
An initiative petition effort for Medicaid expansion is being criticized by Speaker Haahr, primarily because of that ten percent match.
“One of the things that we’ve done since I’ve been in the Legislature (since 2013) is we’ve fully funded the k-12 (education foundation) formula, we’ve made a big attempt to try to bring our higher education funding up,” says Haahr. “Those two areas would have an incredible hit if we were to have to cut several hundred million dollars out of the budget and fund that.”
House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, tells Missourinet he shares the Speaker’s position, because of the impact on the state budget.
Meantime, the Democratic leader in the Missouri House supports Medicaid expansion. House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, tells Capitol reporters about 100,000 Missouri children have lost their Medicaid health care coverage.
“This is something that we (lawmakers) should be talking about. We have Missourians all over the state, not just rural Missouri, urban Missouri, who are losing access to health care,” Quade says. “And that is a true emergency and not tax breaks.”
Leader Quade has called for a formal House committee investigation of the Medicaid enrollment decline. The state Department of Social Services (DSS) has provided statistics to Missourinet, which show the number of Missourians on Medicaid has dropped from about 953,000 in August 2018 to about 850,000 now.
State Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, predicts state revenue will increase, if Medicaid expansion happens. Lavender is the ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Appropriations for Health, Mental Health and Social Services.
During the recent veto session, Lavender spoke on the House floor in Jefferson City, noting that eight rural Missouri hospitals have closed.
“I believe our number is up to eight rural hospitals that we’ve lost in our state. So yes, this would be one of the ways that we would be able to at least provide some type of health care,” Lavender said that day. She was referring to a health care bill from State Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport.
Missouri’s Medicaid budget is now about one-third of the state’s $29 billion operating budget.
Republicans currently control the Missouri House 113-43.