This past week, I had the opportunity to vote on Missouri’s state operating budget for Fiscal Year 2022. I’m proud to announce that my colleagues and I approved a fiscally conservative budget …
This past week, I had the opportunity to vote on Missouri’s state operating budget for Fiscal Year 2022. I’m proud to announce that my colleagues and I approved a fiscally conservative budget that reins in the welfare state while still assisting truly needy Missourians.
Many readers are familiar with the ongoing debate regarding Medicaid Expansion. In 2020, out-of-state liberal groups spent millions to place a constitutional amendment on Missouri’s ballot to expand the state’s Medicaid program and further implement Obamacare in Missouri. After an expensive and misleading advertising campaign, Missourians narrowly approved this constitutional change in August of 2020. As a result, my colleagues in the Missouri General Assembly have been asked to appropriate over one hundred million dollars to enroll able-bodied adults in Missouri’s Medicaid program.
One hundred and seven Missouri counties voted against expanding Medicaid. Citizens in my district, House District 62, also voted against this massive government expansion. Rural Missouri doesn’t want more welfare — especially for able-bodied adults.
Since Medicaid was created in 1965, it has ballooned in size and cost. In the past ten years, Missouri’s Medicaid program has grown by fifty-two percent. Last year, over one-third of Missouri’s entire budget was spent on Medicaid. In the first year alone, Medicaid expansion would cost Missourians over one hundred million dollars — one hundred million more than we already spend on this massive government program. If federal law changes, Missourians could be liable for hundreds of millions of dollars in additional Medicaid spending.
Fortunately, the Missouri General Assembly cannot be required to fund this expansion. Medicaid expansion was passed via initiative petition. Article III, Section 51 of the Missouri Constitution prohibits appropriation via initiative petition. In order to provide funding for a new program like Medicaid expansion, the authors of the amendment should have specified a funding mechanism. However, the authors intentionally chose to forgo the inclusion of a funding mechanism for Medicaid expansion. If their amendment included a funding mechanism, they couldn’t pretend that Medicaid expansion is “free money” from the federal government. Voters would have seen the one hundred million dollar price tag on their ballot, and the amendment would likely have failed.
Last week, I listened to many of my colleagues claim that Medicaid expansion is “compassionate”. I vehemently disagree. It’s not compassionate to saddle our children and grandchildren with debt. It’s not compassionate to divert funding from Missouri’s vulnerable populations to expand another bloated government program. It’s not compassionate to be generous with someone else’s money.
Medicaid expansion is expensive. It diverts precious resources away from the truly needy and gives them to able-bodied adults. This program would cost over one hundred million dollars in its first year alone. My colleagues and I believe this money could be better spent elsewhere. Instead of expanding a costly government welfare program, we should use this money to fund our schools, our senior citizens, our disabled population, and our children. House Bill 21 does just that — it redirects these funds to Missourians who truly need our help, and guarantees that Missouri will have a balanced budget in the years to come. This week, I proudly voted with my district and voted against this expensive, unsustainable program.
The appropriations bills now move to the Senate for consideration. The House and Senate will need to agree on a final version of the state spending plan by May 7, which is the constitutional deadline for budget approval.
Please do not hesitate to call or write me anytime with your questions or thoughts on this, or on any other issue. My phone number is 573-751-1344, and my email address is Bruce.Sassmann@house.mo.gov. It’s an honor and privilege to serve as your representative in the Missouri General Assembly.