Nixon's stance unclear on Medicaid expansion

Jul 10, 2012

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the federal health law, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is not taking a clear stance on whether he thinks the state should take part in a voluntary expansion of its Medicaid program.  The health law originally required states to raise Medicaid eligibility to about 130 percent of the federal poverty level. But the Supreme Court ruling now leaves that decision up to states.  Speaking to reporters in Kansas City Monday, Nixon said he hopes to work with providers, businesses, and lawmakers to figure out what’s best for Missouri.

“Both the law is complicated and opinion is complicated. There are a myriad of issues, and ultimately our goal is to make sure that Missourians have access to affordable health insurance while continuing to keep our fiscal house in order.  And that will guide us through it," said Nixon.

If states do opt into the expansion, the federal government would fully pay for it for three years, starting in 2014.  Then, states would be responsible for a portion of the costs.   Missouri’s Medicaid program costs about $2 billion annually. The state’s budget director recently told the St. Louis beacon that Missouri would end up paying about $60 million during the first year it would have to contribute to the expansion. Five years later, that amount would grow to about $250 million.