Barbara Shelly

Kit Bond sees the light on Medicaid expansion

Updated: 2014-01-25T23:36:00Z


The Kansas City Star

Ah, that old free market impulse.

After years of warning that Obamacare will take down the U.S. economy, former U.S. Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri has found a way to make the Affordable Care Act pay. For himself, at least.

As this Star story reports, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce has hired Bond to lobby on behalf of Medicaid expansion — a crucial component of the health care law. Bond’s assignment — a difficult one — is to persuade GOP members of the General Assembly to increase the state’s Medicaid eligibility limits from 19 percent of the poverty level to 138 percent.

That would affect about 225,000 working Missourians. Currently, an adult in a family of four who makes more than $4,500 a year can’t get state-provided health insurance. Raising eligibility to the limits called for in the Affordable Care Act would enable adults that that size of household to get Medicaid if they make up to $32,500. That’s much more reasonable.

Even if the compassion argument doesn’t work for you, there are a number of reasons expanding Medicaid makes sense. It would reduce bankruptcies, ensure a more stable bottom line for hospitals and health care providers, bring more than a billion dollars of federal money into the state and reduce the workload of charitable groups and many state services. Several credible studies have calculated that Medicaid expansion would be profitable for Missouri even after the state begins picking up 10 percent of the cost.

With all of that ammunition, Bond should have little trouble explaining his personal conversion. He recently referred to the health care law as “a pile of manure” and in a 2010 interview said states shouldn’t expand Medicaid.

But Bond has evidently figured out that a lobbying contract on this topic makes financial sense for him. Now he just has to sell GOP lawmakers on the reality that it makes good financial sense for Missouri.

To reach Barbara Shelly, call 816-234-4594 or send email to Follow her at

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