Health
5:25 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Nixon Rallies Key Allies In Push For Medicaid Expansion

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is continuing his push to expand the state’s Medicaid program, an optional provision for states under the federal health law. The governor rallied some key allies near Kansas City Thursday afternoon but also pointed to some rather unlikely ones.

Nixon spoke from a podium inside the Independence Chamber of Commerce, where he reiterated what seems to be his Medicaid expansion campaign catchphrase:

It is the smart thing to do, and it is the right thing to do,” he said (more than once).

Nixon has included an expansion in his proposed budget, saying it would be an economic boon for the state while also providing health coverage to hundreds of thousands of residents.

From Left to Right: Independence Chamber of Commerce President Franklin “Kim” Kimbrough, Research Medical Center COO Matt Sogard, Independence Chamber of Commerce Chairman Stan Shurmantine, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce Vice President Mark Dickey, Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee Co-Chair Ken Stremming
From Left to Right: Independence Chamber of Commerce President Franklin “Kim” Kimbrough, Research Medical Center COO Matt Sogard, Independence Chamber of Commerce Chairman Stan Shurmantine, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce Vice President Mark Dickey, Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee Co-Chair Ken Stremming
Credit Elana Gordon / KCUR

As the governor spoke of these points Thursday, thirteen powerful suits stood behind him, all in support of his efforts. The lineup included hospital CEOs, health center leaders and executives with area chambers of commerce.

Nixon, a Democrat, acknowledged them, but he then drew attention to what might be some unexpected backers of state Medicaid expansions.

“Just this week, Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio and Republican Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan said they would use federal funds to strengthen the Medicaid systems in their states. They joined Republican Governors in North Dakota, New Mexico and Nevada,” Nixon said. “They’re doing this not because it’s the easy thing for them to do politically, but because it’s the right thing for them to do in their states, just like we should do here."

That may be the case for other states, but an expansion still faces an uphill battle in Missouri. Majority leaders in both houses are against it. Many cite worries over the long-term costs and the growth of an already big public program.

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