CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has spent weeks convincing voters his plan to expand Medicaid is the best option to make sure Missouri money doesn't go to other states through the Affordable Health Care Act.
Now, the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce said its board members agree, expanding Medicaid is a good option.
Chamber President and CEO John Mehner said the issue was something they thought long and hard about before announcing the chamber's support.
He said people asked them to look at the issue, and take a stance one way or the other.
"The chamber takes positions on issues that are brought to the board, either by a sector of the membership, or if they are a major item at the state level, or federal level, that type of thing, we will look at an item, and determine whether or not to take a position," said Mehner.
Mehner said the Medicaid expansion would benefit Cape's medical industry, and help bring federal tax dollars back to Missouri.
"I think we've had significant portions of our membership ask us to look at it, our medical community is strong here, the small employer community is strong here, and also a lot of people who watch our tax dollars, said our federal tax dollars need to be brought back to the state of Missouri," said Mehner.
He said local small business owners told the chamber an expansion would be helpful in providing insurance for employees the company cannot afford to cover.
"We do believe that the Medicaid expansion for the 3 years the federal government is going to pay 100 percent of the cost is something that results in a benefit to our medical sector, it also results in a benefit to a lot of our employers, or the people that they employ, but we also understand the concerns about the expansion," said Mehner.
To address those concerns, Mehner said they have a few recommendations.
He said they think it's critical to preserve Missouri's AAA bond rating.
They suggested new recipients in the expansion must sign an acknowledgement that Missouri can only guarantee the new benefits for 3 years, since that's the time the federal government will pay for them.
"We feel like it's important to opt in at this point because it brings our already federally committed tax dollars, back to the state of Missouri, for the 3 year period of time that they're funding 100 percent and then gives us an opportunity to review," said Mehner.
At the end of those 3 years, if there is not reform, and the money is not there, they suggested the expansion program is the first to go.
"We look at it also as an opportunity to make sure that we have say on the expansion itself and what we would like to see done, if we do support it," said Mehner.