Missouri Rep. Betsy Fogle, D-Springfield, this morning made the case for Medicaid expansion as the Senate works on its version of the state's budget.
Fogle said the House of Representatives' decision not to fund Medicaid in its budget bill earlier this month goes against the will of the voters and misses an opportunity to benefit the state, connecting health care with fiscal outcomes. She was interviewed for Springfield Business Journal's 12 People You Need to Know series by Eric Olson, editorial vice president-external relations.
“It would bring health insurance coverage to over 275,000 Missourians and would bring billions of dollars of revenue into our state. It would create jobs and it would allow people who have mental health diagnoses or substance abuse problems to get direct access to care,” she said in the interview, which was streamed on SBJ’s Facebook page. “There’s so many reasons to expand Medicaid and no one's presented me with a good reason to not – other than just ideological differences.”
Amendment 2, the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative, was passed by voters in August 2020 by a roughly 53% margin.
Opponents of the legislation, including Gov. Mike Parson, have said the state cannot afford Medicaid expansion. In his January 2020 State of the State address, Parson warned expansion could come at the cost of education, workforce development and infrastructure funding.
The nonprofit public policy Missouri Budget Project has estimated the American Rescue Plan Act approved by Congress this year could lower the state's Medicaid contribution by more than $1 billion over a two-year period, according to statehouse reporter Phill Brooks of Missouri Digital News. The estimated state cost for Medicaid expansion is $130 million per year, he said.
While he's previously criticized Medicaid expansion, Parson's version of the budget includes the $130 million to fund it, the St. Louis American reports.
Fogle said in the interview this morning that the Senate can choose the House version, Parson's bill or craft new legislation that has aspects of both. The Missouri General Assembly is under a constitutional deadline to pass a balanced budget by May 7 for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
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