KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The national controversy over President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act hit home today, as Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced his support for Medicaid expansion.
The governor says this expansion could provide health care for as many as 300,000 uninsured Missouri residents.
"I think when folks see the facts, see the opportunity here, they`ll join with us," Gov. Nixon said on Thursday. "That`s not to say it won`t be a process but we`re hopeful that now that the election is over, we`ll put politics aside and go to work."
Gov. Nixon stresses the federal government would pick up the tab in the early going, and Missourians wouldn't pay a dime until 2017. His Democratic supporters say this will create jobs, which in turn will pay the bills once they come due.
"It`s almost like making a meal," said Missouri Sen. Jason Holsman. "Do you want to be a cook in the kitchen or do you want to eat something that someone else serves you. And i think that`s going to be the discussion and I think the republicans in the end will see that having say in what this looks like is going to be a better position."
However, the Republican speaker of Missouri's House of Representatives says the governor's expansion plan will cost millions of unbudgeted dollars, and he questions Nixon's reasons for changing his stance on the Affordable Healthcare Act -- only three weeks after his most recent re-election.
"The governor is looking beyond the voters of Missouri," said Rep. Timothy Jones during a telephone interview, adding that he and his fellow Republicans will fight the governor's plan when the legislature reconvenes on January 9th. "Perhaps he has national ambitions. I have heard rumors of that, and perhaps, he's trying to pander to an audience that is less conservative than Missourians. He knows very well where Missourians lie on this issue."
For his part, Nixon says that he understands the fiscal realities of the Medicaid expansion plan.
"I think when we get beyond the political thoughts of it and get to the long-term policy and fiscal choices around it, that the right fit for Missouri crystallizes pretty clear," said Nixon.