JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KSDK) - Medicaid expansion is a hot topic in Missouri.
Democratic legislators in Jefferson City are expected to push to add more Missourians to the program during the current legislative session.
Now, the St. Louis Regional Chamber has named it a top legislative priority in 2014.
That's because supporters say it would have such a huge impact on our region's business community.
Expanding Medicaid in Missouri would allow about 200,000 low-income people across the state to get health coverage.
Supporters say it would also create 20,000 jobs and bring billions of dollars in federal funding to local hospitals.
But the speaker of the Missouri house, Tim Jones, says he doesn't support Medicaid expansion right now because the current program is so broken.
"It's not providing the service it should provide, the quality of care, the outcomes are not good," Jones said. "If you talk with any health care providers in the Medicaid system, they will tell you reform is greatly needed before we continue to dump millions of taxpayer dollars into a broken system."
But Jen Bersdale disagrees. She's executive director of Missouri Health Care for All, a statewide, non-partisan community based organization whose sole mission is access to health care.
"This is money that Missouri taxpayers are already paying to the Federal government and the question is, do we leave it in Washington to pay for other programs in other states, or do we bring that money back home to Missouri to support our hospitals, provide jobs and support our neighbors in need," says Bersdale.
Jones says he wants to see Missouri reform its Medicaid program before expanding it.
The St. Louis Regional Chamber says nearly every chamber of commerce in Missouri has endorsed Medicaid expansion.