Missouri state lawmakers launched an interim committee Thursday to examine the issue of Medicaid reform. Governor Jay Nixon pushed heavily for the legislature to expand Medicaid this session, and accept hundreds of millions of federal dollars to do so. But Republican legislators were worried about the long-term costs of the move, and no measure was passed. Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, a Republican member who started the committee, says accepting the federal money wouldn’t fix the problems that are inherent to the Medicaid system.
“We have to balance the opinions of all Missourians as I’ve seen them reflected at the ballot box, take into consideration the damage to our budget which would occur if we just simply whole-heartedly jump in to a billion-dollar expansion of a broken system,” Jones said Thursday.
Jones says he wants to gather input from insurance companies, doctors, non-profit organizations and budget experts before passing a bill to reform Medicaid. Jones says Republican Jay Barnes will chair the interim committee looking at Medicaid reform. Around a dozen protestors showed up outside of the venue where Jones spoke in Columbia to protest the state’s rejection of the federal money. They held signs and chanted outside of the conference venue ahead of Jones’ speech.
“It’s well worth the investment here in Missouri because it doesn’t cost Missouri anything,” Robin Acree, a member of Grassroots Organizing and a previous recipient of Medicaid-funded care said. “It’s just taking federal dollars that have already been allocated through Medicare savings. So take the money.”