Trading Away our Future: The Medicaid Expansion Debate
“Bad ideas are not removed by assassination but by exposing them to evidence and reason.” –Anonymous
The contrast in world views or at least political philosophy was front and center Tuesday night when an amendment was offered to expand Medicaid under pressure from Obamacare supporters. The amendment failed on a party-line vote of 25 to 9. The nature and content of debate as well as the party-line vote revealed the sharp contrast in party perspectives regarding government accountability, national debt, and the importance of considering the long term consequences of public policy decisions.
The contrast of positions was occasionally punctuated by the question of whose numbers and analyses were most accurate, but the contest more often was between fiscal realities versus emotion. Those of us declaring that Medicaid expansion was already happening by around $300 million annually and that expansion would potentially bankrupt the state and heavily penalize education funding were labeled as heartless and uncaring. If we pointed to the constitutional mandate to balance the budget, we were accused of having no regard for the poor and uninsured.
Concern is mounting that entitlement spending is growing such that for several years any increase in state revenue is immediately consumed by the growth in welfare-program demands. For example, last year’s revenue growth was approximately 2 percent greater than anticipated, but that entire amount – and then some – was required to balance the growth of Medicaid spending.
It is difficult to reverse your position when it is rooted primarily in emotion. Additionally, a counter argument based on financial history, budgets, and forecasts may never overcome a point of emotion. One is an argument about how government can take better care of people; the other is an argument about how the taxpayer will pay for it. From the vote count, after the lengthy debate, it appears the practical argument won out, and we will not be expanding Medicaid in Missouri.
On a lighter note, the Missouri Conservation Department has asked me to inform constituents that a number of outdoor activities are scheduled in or near the 31stSenatorial District. The following link can connect you to information on two Kid’s Fishing Days, Hunter Education Classes, and a pond management workshop: http://mdc.mo.gov/events
Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. Thank you and we welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.