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ERA 3 State Strategy MO Medicaid Expansion Editorial: Scared senators want the Medicaid monster to go away
Tuesday, 25 March 2014 00:00

Editorial: Scared senators want the Medicaid monster to go away

Written by  Editorial Board | St. Lous Post Dispatch
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Like scared little boys huddling in a closet, the members of the Missouri Senate’s so-called “conservative” caucus this week begged the monster under their bed to go away.

The monster is Medicaid expansion. The senators want it to leave them alone because they can’t make it go away on their own. Their intellectual argument on the merits of the issue has been laid bare by studies, colleagues, donors and other conservatives who have come to realize that balancing budgets and saving lives is a bit more important than simply hating Obamacare.

On Monday, as the Missouri Legislature returned from spring break, a group of Republican senators — John Lamping of Ladue, Kurt Schaefer of Columbia, Ed Emery of Lamar, Dan Brown of Rolla and Brad Lager of Savannah — took to the floor in a sort of group snit. They made it clear to their colleagues that they would filibuster any attempt to help Missouri’s growing numbers of working poor obtain health insurance.

“This is done. It’s not happening. Go find something else to do,” said Mr. Lamping.

Here’s what is really happening:

Like the little boy in M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller “Sixth Sense,” Mr. Lamping and his friends see dead people.

They see the 700 or so Missourians who, statistically speaking, will die next year if Missouri continues to be one of the states unwilling to expand its Medicaid system. They don’t want to talk about that anymore. They want the dead people out of their dreams.

They see the 24,000 jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity predicted by the same economic models that led the Legislature to offer billions of taxpayer dollars in corporate incentives to Boeing. They know that unlike the Boeing deal, Medicaid expansion isn’t funded by the state, but by an infusion of federal dollars. They can taste the hypocrisy and want to spit it out.

They see the lie of opposing the Medicaid expansion on “conservative” grounds laid bare. A House committee run by Republicans produced a report showing that the proposal would have a net positive effect on Missouri’s budget for years to come.

They see a former governor and U.S. senator, Christopher “Kit” Bond, a founder of the modern Missouri Republican Party, roaming the Capitol halls pitching Medicaid expansion. It makes them uncomfortable, like they’re seeing ghosts.

They see the St. Louis Regional Chamber putting on a conference this week titled, “Will we say yes to jobs?” with business leaders touting the economic benefits of Medicaid expansion, and they wonder: Will the donor base dry up?

So the obstructionists, seeing the writing on the wall but unable to end their bad dream, stand in their marble closet screaming like scared children at the monster to go away, while their colleagues in the House actually hold hearings in which the evidence will carry the debate.

It’s quite the reversal of fortune. Missouri’s Senate used to be the more thoughtful body of the two chambers in the Legislature.

Now, it seems, it’s afraid of its own shadow.

Link to original article from The St. Louis Post Dispatch

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