A crowd estimated at more than 1,000 crammed into the Rotunda of the Missouri Capitol Tuesday to hear Governor Jay Nixon (D) call for expanding Medicaid to an additional 300,000 residents, nearly 260,000 of them by next year.
He told the crowd that the people he wants to add are those with low-paying jobs that don’t include health coverage.
“They wait tables and clean office buildings, they work the night shift in factories, and repair cars and trucks, they watch our children and take care of our grandmothers and grandfathers on the night shift," Nixon said. "They work tough, low-paying jobs that don’t offer health benefits, and they can’t afford to buy the coverage on their own -- but because of their income, they can’t qualify for Medicaid, so they live in a world much different than most of us, a world where it’s easier for a worker to get health care by quitting a job than by taking one.”
Nixon also told the audience that the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion for the first three years, and that 24,000 new jobs would be created as well. Republican leaders maintain that expansion should not take place without needed reforms, and cast doubt on whether the federal government can maintain its end of the bargain. But the Governor chided GOP lawmakers for opposing expansion while enjoying a generous health care plan that’s paid for by the state.
“If tomorrow they came down with the flu, broke an ankle, or noticed a lump where there shouldn’t be one, they could walk into a doctor’s office or a clinic and take a card out of their wallet or their pocket, they’d slide that card across the front desk, the clerk would smile and write down the numbers, and they would get the care they needed,” Nixon said.
Nixon then urged the crowd to take their message upstairs to lawmakers’ offices, saying only their voices can give legislators the courage to support expanding Medicaid. However, it’s unknown how many lawmakers were available to receive visitors, as the Senate went back into session after the rally ended, and the Missouri House had adjourned for the day.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport