Ft. Walton, Fla. — During a conference this week, Rep. Michael Butler, D-St. Louis, met with a portion of President Barack Obama’s administration today to discuss some key subject points. Chief among them: Medicaid expansion.
Butler, along with Rep. Randy Dunn, D-Kansas City, are the two representatives from Missouri at the Young Elected Officials Network’s annual conference. YEO, Butler said, is a liberal organization that connects politicians younger than 40 through conferences and other events.
While 200 politicians attended the event, just 16 took the trip to the White House to hear updates and discuss policies with David Agnew, the director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Butler said the President was unable to be there because of his tour around the country this past week to discuss the economy among other issues.
The push for Medicaid expansion was the primary subject of the White House discussion, Butler said.
“They already knew what was going on back home,” Butler said. “They knew which states weren’t going to expand and were more interested in states that were on the brink of doing something. They aren’t as worried about the exchanges because the federal government will set those up regardless.”
Butler said there was a “huge push” for the next step after the exchanges are available on October 1, which is to help people sign up.
“It’s very beneficial because there’s a lot of information out there about how bad the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare is, but it’s all going to set the record straight when people find out that this isn’t Armageddon and it’s going to save people a lot of money,” Butler said, adding that the administrators stressed to the legislators that they needed to be a voice for that education back home.
Other than Medicaid, Butler said the Administration discussed education issues — a limited subject since education is predominately organized on a state-by-state basis — and immigration reform.
While immigration reform isn’t a proximity concern for Missouri, Butler said he was able to listen and get an understanding of the political climate around the issue. He said the discussion centered around the President’s push to proving a path to citizenship, which he said a majority of congressmen support though they are hoping to get more on board.
“The idea is the quicker we can make them legal citizens, the quicker we can have them pay taxes and contribute to the economy,” Butler said.
The conference that Dunn and Butler are at has a few more days of lessons and panel discussions, Butler said.
“I am excited to have gone to the White House and represent Missouri,” Butler said. “We always talk about how we feel we’re ignored by D.C., but this was an opportunity to talk to the Administration directly.”