Business groups “uncomfortable” supporting Medicaid expansion

Missouri News Horizon
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — House Speaker Tim Jones says business groups are uncomfortable with the fiscal impact of Medicaid expansion, despite their public push for Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposal to expand the program.

“I think the business groups are receiving a lot of pressure from those who would gain the most financially from medicaid expansion,” he said. “From talking to them privately, I’m not sure they’re very comfortable with their positions.”

Business groups like the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce, along with others from the St. Louis area and mid-Missouri have come out in support of expansion because of it’s impact on the state’s economy. They often point to a report by the Missouri Hospital Association that claims the injection of federal funds would create 24,000 jobs in the state.

Still, Jones said business people, along with him, are concerned about the legislation’s economic impact. Jones pointed to a report from the credit ratings agency Moody’s that downgraded the state’s AAA credit rating from positive to negative — noting serious reliance on federal funds.

“If we massively expand that reliance on federal spending, I would assume you’re going to make that fear even worse in the eyes of the credit ratings agencies,” he said.

Gov. Jay Nixon, who spent much of the last year campaigning on and taking credit for the state’s AAA credit rating, shrugged off the report while speaking with reporters last week.

“Missouri maintains its AAA credit rating,” he said. “They were specifically very positive about the way we’ve managed money in tough economic times, and it confirms that we’re managing our money well in the state.”

Still, much of Missouri’s budget is made up of federal funds. Out of the state’s proposed $24 billion operating budget fiscal year 2013, only $8.28 billion comes from General Revenue.

House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream said Monday his committee would release their budget later in the week.