JEFFERSON CITY - After being quiet about the issue during the campaign season, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon announced his support for Medicaid expansion Thursday.
Nixon said it was time for Missouri to begin work on expanding Medicaid, a section of the federal health care law, during a conference call with reporters before heading out on a three-city tour to promote his plan.
"Congress passed it, the President signed it, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it. It is the law of the land," Nixon said.
Citing a study conducted by the University of Missouri, Nixon said the expansion program could insure 300,000 more Missourians and could create 24,000 new jobs in Missouri in 2014. Nixon also added he hopes state lawmakers can "move beyond politics" to expand the state's Medicaid rolls.
However, many Republican lawmakers voiced their opposition to the governor's announcement.
"Overwhelming majorities of the legislature are opposed to this and will not go along with a gigantic expansion of welfare," Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said. "I think those that do support it in the legislature are overwhelmingly outnumbered and that it will not come to a vote in either the House or the Senate."
Other Republican legislators, such as Columbia Sen. Kurt Schaefer and St. Charles County Sen. Tom Dempsey, want to wait for more information before taking a stance on the Medicaid expansion.
"I think in order to make an informed decision we've got to know what the cost to the state is, and really at this point nobody knows what that is," Schaeffer said. "I have grave concerns about what it's going to cost the state of Missouri, because it will have a cost to general revenue, which will have to come from somewhere else."
House Speaker Tim Jones, R-St. Louis County, could not be reached for comment but said in a statement that he is concerned where the funding will come from for the Medicaid expansion.
"Now is not the time to put our state on the end of yet another big-government program that will only increase the burden on future taxpayers," Jones said.