Missouri’s state Treasurer, Scott Fitzpatrick, is warning against Medicaid expansion

Medicaid Expansion

Missouri’s state treasurer and the House Budget Committee chairman will travel across the state on Monday, urging Missourians to vote against Medicaid expansion on the August ballot.

Medicaid, which is formally known as MO HealthNet, is a federal and state program that assists with medical costs for residents with limited incomes.

House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, tells Missourinet that Medicaid’s current budget is almost $12 billion for the fiscal year 2021. The state’s current operating budget is about $35.2 billion.

Smith and State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick (R) will visit Joplin, Springfield, Kansas City, Creve Coeur, Cape Girardeau and Jefferson City on Monday. They’ll brief Capitol reporters immediately following the governor’s 3 pm press conference at the Statehouse.

Missourians will cast ballots on Amendment Two, the Medicaid expansion proposal, on August 4. If approved by voters, Medicaid would be expanded for residents between the ages of 19 and 64 with an income level at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level, as set forth in the Affordable Care Act.

Medicaid expansion supporters say the measure would provide healthcare to Missourians who earn less than $18,000 annually.

Chairman Smith says the August Medicaid expansion ballot measure is projected to cost $200 million in state general revenue, and $1.8 billion in federal funding each year. He also says it will raise Missouri’s Medicaid rolls from 950,000 to more than 1.2 million participants.

Smith also says COVID-19 has had a major impact on Missouri’s economy.

“More than $1 billion has been cut from the state’s general revenue budget in recent months,” Smith says, in a statement. “Just this month, services requiring state support have been drastically reduced, including elementary school funding, college scholarships, and support services for those in need. Amendment Two will be a knockout blow to the state budget as more services will be cut or eliminated to pay for the healthcare of able-bodied adults.”

Supporters of Medicaid expansion disagree, saying the measure will create thousands of new jobs, many of them in rural communities.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and many unions have endorsed Amendment Two. The Chamber has quoted a study from the Missouri Foundation for Health, which says Medicaid expansion will create more than 16,000 new jobs annually during its first five years while increasing personal income by $1.1 billion annually.

The Foundation for Health says most of the new positions would be outside of St. Louis and Kansas City, and that 90 percent of those jobs will pay more than $15 an hour.

Medicaid expansion supporters also say that Amendment Two will help keep rural hospitals open.

The Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) says ten rural Missouri hospitals have closed since 2014. Five of the ten closings happened in the southeast Missouri district of U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem.

The Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest general farm organization, is opposed to Amendment Two. Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst says it could cripple the state budget by imposing massive new healthcare costs on Missouri taxpayers.

37 states have expanded Medicaid.

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Brian Hauswirth

About Brian Hauswirth

Brian Hauswirth began as Missourinet news director in July 2016. He anchors daily newscasts, simulcasts and special reports from the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, where he primarily covers the Missouri House and numerous legislative committee hearings.