The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 26, 2014

Susan Redden: Democrats’ petition supports Medicaid expansion

JOPLIN, Mo. — Area Democrats are taking their arguments to local lawmakers on the need to expand Medicaid in Missouri.

Elliott Denniston, of Webb City, has posted a petition on the Southwest Missouri Democrats Web page asking residents to sign on in support of Medicaid expansion.

“The Missouri Legislature should expand Medicaid for obvious reasons: It would mean 24,000 new jobs, a huge influx of federal money to the state, the rescue of many rural hospitals, and of course, health insurance for over 200,000 more Missourians,” he wrote.

Gov. Jay Nixon again is calling for action on the expansion in this legislative session, and the move has the backing of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Missouri Hospital Association and an array of other groups. But it’s not on the radar of Republicans who hold majorities in the House and Senate. They argue that the federal government cannot afford the costs and that the state could get stuck with the tab.

Currently, Medicaid costs are shared by the state and the feds. As part of the federal offer in conjunction with the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pay all the costs for those added to the rolls through 2016, and the state after that would pay 10 percent.

‘Right to farm’

The vote isn’t until November, but the “Right to Farm” amendment already is attracting a lot of discussion for and against the measure.

A coalition called Missouri’s Food for America met last week in Jefferson City to organize against the amendment, which members said is being backed by “big agriculture” in an effort to block any future regulations to protect the state’s water supply and air, and to deprive neighbors of recourse in the event their property is affected by a “factory farm.”

Backers of the amendment say the opponents’ group is “little more than a front for the Humane Society of the United States.”

Don Nikodum, of Missouri Farmers Care, said farmers “are constantly under attack from extremists like HSUS” and that passing the amendment would protect farming in Missouri and save thousands of jobs.

State Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, sponsored the measure putting the proposal on the ballot.

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