JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick and House Budget Chairman Cody Smith held an event alongside a group of lawmakers in the Capitol Monday, concluding a day-long tour urging Missourians to vote no on Medicaid expansion next week.
“Amendment 2 will add hundreds of thousands of working-age adults to our already expensive Medicaid program,” Smith said. “There are currently millions of dollars being spent across the state thorough a campaign in an effort to convince voters to vote in favor of the proposition. In that campaign, there are some details being left out which we’d like to hit on today.”
Smith said the expansion would pose a substantial cost to taxpayers. Representatives of Missouri’s Department of Social Services (DSS) testified in committee it would cost $15 billion in the next five years and hundreds of millions of dollars would come out of Missouri general revenue, according to Smith.
Staying within Missouri’s balanced budget requirement would mean cuts from education and infrastructure, as well as other state-funded programs, should the expansion measure be approved, he said. Smith argued the proposal lacked a funding mechanism and the source of the money was not clearly attached to the piece.
Smith also said that while proponents have claimed the initiative would bring tax money back to Missourians, the state receives more in federal funding for Medicaid than it pays for.
“This will not bring money home to Missouri,” he said. “It would simply require more money to be printed in Washington, D.C., and added to our tremendous federal debt and deficit.”
Fitzpatrick gave a brief examination of Medicaid expansion’s history since 2014 in the U.S. as a whole — as well as in Missouri — and the future outlook of a positive vote.
“I think what we need to keep in mind is the numbers we’re talking about today aren’t today’s numbers, and this decision is not just a decision for today,” he said. “It’s a decision for the future of the state of Missouri.”
“If this would pass, it would add up to another 300,000 people to a system that’s already strained and is already consuming a massive portion of the state budget, as well as massive portions of the state’s general revenue spending,” he continued. “What we’re talking about is a population that is mostly able-bodied, working-age adults. The state of Missouri already has very generous Medicaid opportunities.”
Smith and Fitzpatrick noted that Medicaid coverage makes up 40 percent of Missouri’s budget.
Other officials present at the Capitol event included Rep. Sara Walsh, Sen. Bob Onder, Sen. Dan Hegeman, and Sen. Dave Schatz.
Smith and Fitzpatrick held events in Joplin, Springfield, Kansas City, Maryland Heights, and Cape Girardeau on Monday before concluding their tour in Jefferson City.
The Medicaid expansion initiative was endorsed by AARP Missouri as well as the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry in recent months and withstood lawsuits in June over the constitutionality of its funding.
“From the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Catholic Conference, to organized labor and AARP, Missourians know Amendment 2 will help keep rural hospitals open, protect thousands of frontline healthcare jobs, and bring $1 billion of our own tax dollars back from Washington annually,” Healthcare for Missouri spokesman Jack Cardetti told The Missouri Times.
Thirty-seven states have adopted Medicaid expansion measures. The initiative will come before Missouri voters on Aug. 4.
Cameron Gerber studied journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, he earned an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College. Cameron is a native of Eldon, Missouri.
Contact Cameron at firstname.lastname@example.org.