JEFFERSON CITY - A national health care organization released a report Thursday, April 4, that more than one-half million Missourians would be eligible for federal tax credits under the Federal Affordable Care Act.
Ron Pollack, the executive director of Families USA, said more that 525,000 people in Missouri will be eligible for health care premium tax credits under federal law in January 2014. Families USA is a national organization for health care consumers.
The federal health care law requires almost everyone to own some type of health care insurance or pay a small fine. The requirement takes full effect in January 2014.
Pollack said the federal tax credits would benefit Missouri citizens with and without health care insurance.
"They also will be eligible for those people who purchased insurance but increasingly are having a difficulty affording that coverage," Pollack said.
Jen Bersdale, the executive director of the Missouri Health Care for All, said she thinks the health care tax credits under the federal law will be a huge relief for many people.
"For the first time ever, there will be affordable insurance available to people who are working, making too much for Medicaid but don't get insurance through their employer," Bersdale said.
Some lawmakers in Missouri said they were not opposed to the federal tax credits, but they were against the federal health care law in its complete form. Their opposition is mainly against an expansion of Medicaid aimed at covering other poor people.
Missouri Rep. Paul Fitzwater, R-Potosi, said he agrees with some parts of the federal health law but doesn't agree with it as a whole such as the Medicaid expansion requirement.
"We can reform rather than to expand it," Fitzwater said in reference to Medicaid. Fitzwater also said the federal government is only going to fund the new federal health care law for three years and then Missouri will have to take on those funds.
"That's going to leave Missouri responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars to fund this," Fitzwater said. Fitzwater said Missouri may have to raise taxes to afford these credits in the future.
Fitzwater said Americans can become too dependent on government funds.
"When you go to the zoo, there's a sign that says please don't feed the animals," Fitzwater said. "There's a reason, because they keep coming back."
Rep. Bart Korman, R-High Hill, said there is a gap between people who are Medicaid eligible and those that can afford private health care insurance. He also said he understand the federal health law is working to fix this but looking at the cost for the other requirements of the law, he said he doesn't think the law is the best solution for the long term.
"I will not support a straight up expansion at this time," Korman said in reference to Medicaid. He said Medicaid reform would be a better way to go.
Korman said it's a "touchy situation" when talking about people's health care and people's tax dollars. He said there isn't a yes or no answer when it comes to problems in the health care system.
"I have to look at the right balance of what we do legislatively to provide services and be extremely accountable for people's tax dollars," Korman said.
Pollack said there has been opposition to the Affordable Care Act as whole but not specifically to the tax credit subsidies that will be completely funded by the federal government. He said he thinks there are close to 40 U.S. representatives in the House who are pushing to repeal the federal health care law before it takes full effect next year.
The Missouri House didn't include any money to go to Medicaid expansion in it's budget for next year. The expansion is a requirement under federal law. The budget now has to be approved by the Senate.
Fitzwater said if Medicaid expansion or reform isn't included in the budget before the end of the session then he thinks the governor will call a special session for Medicaid.