Nixon talks Medicaid expansion in Cape Girardeau

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon made a stop in the Heartland Thursday to talk about what he calls the most important decision facing the state.

Nixon met with city leaders, hospital CEOs  and local law enforcement in Cape Girardeau to discuss his plan for expanding Medicaid.

"I think all of the models clearly show that this is an investment if we make, that will yield a healthier workforce, a more vibrant workforce, begin to get downward pressure on premiums, so the folks are taking healthcare at the most expensive place you can get it, an emergency room, it will mean benefits for our state budget in the long run," said Nixon.

The governor says it would bring billions of federal tax dollars back to the state of Missouri, help fund other state programs like education and strengthen the economy by adding jobs.

"Folks have asked me where are we finding the resources to have a 4 percent increase for our colleges that need those dollars to educate our kids, I said because we're doing this and our budget includes this, where are we finding the 100 million dollars that is allowing us to push forward the lengthening of our school year so our kids will get much more, better K through 12 education, where do we find the $3 million dollars to make up for the funds that went away for drug task force, so many of these law enforcement works on, by this" said Nixon.

However, Nixon also says he supports a three year trigger, that's when federal dollars stop funding the program 100-percent. At that point, Nixon says he wants to reevaluate.

One big reason some people do not support the expansion is that the federal government will not 100 percent fund the program after the first three years.

Governor Nixon said he has a plan for that.

"I'm also supporting a 3 year trigger here, after we get 3 years, at the end of the 100 percent, if the Feds are backing off or something, I'm not buying us into something that's going to be expensive and drive us into a difficult situation. I support a 3 year trigger, so that after three years we get a chance to look at this and if it's not working like we hope, we're not getting the reforms we want, if we're not getting the things we need, then we'll be able to reassess at that point," said Nixon.

But, he says getting the expansion passed now, is important.

"We can't be in a competitive situation where states around us use our tax dollars to provide health care coverage which is the right thing to do for those folks, and attract those workers as they start their careers," said Gov. Nixon. "We need to make sure at every place along the way we're rewarding work and providing healthcare where possible."

Nixon says Missouri lawmakers need to pass a plan by the end of this legislative session.

"I bet just about everybody here, maybe not everybody, but just about everybody, if they're sick, or their kids sick or their wife or husband is sick, they go to a hospital or a clinic and they go up to that front door, come up to that waiting desk and they slide across a card, and the person smiles and write the number down and you get the service, and you get preventative care, well there's a lot of working Missourians who can't do that their employer doesn't provide it, and they can't afford it and because of that they live a much different life than all of us," said Nixon.

He says if they don't, starting January 1, 2014, Missouri tax dollars will pay for health care in other states.

The Cape Girardeau Area Chamber Of Commerce announced it's support for the expansion earlier this week.

Opponents to Nixon's plan say Medicare needs reforming, not expansion.

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