Long story short, things could get a lot more expensive for Missouri to participate in Medicaid than the Post-Dispatch’s report would indicate. Kaiser’s “standard” participation scenario indeed predicts that Missouri would have to pick up $431 million in new spending. But, if the program’s participation rate is higher, the state could be stuck with somewhere around $773 million in new spending. And that is just for the years 2014-19. Legislators can count on at least an extra $100 million to $150 million each year after that to pay for the expansion, and possibly much, much more if participation rates are higher.
And where, exactly, would all of that money come from? You, of course, through higher taxes and/or reduced state services elsewhere. And that is completely neglecting the fact that Missourians would not be getting a “windfall” of federal dollars. Taxpayers are the government. We would be paying ourselves. If participation in Missouri’s Medicaid program rises, the cost to the federal government will increase, meaning not only will taxpayers be spending more money through the state, but they will have to spend more money through the feds, as well.