Governor Jay Nixon continues his push for Medicaid expansion in Missouri, this time focusing on mental health. The expansion would give health care coverage to 300,000 more Missourians. Nixon tells ABC 17 News with the shootings in Aurora, Colorado and in Newtown, Massachusetts over the past year. He says now is the time to act and get people the help they need. He says in order to get that the legislature needs to approve the Medicaid expansion. Nixon believes the only way to persuade the veto-proof republican majority is to put pressure on them from people in their own districts. The governor says he wants to provide more services for the mentally ill along with more training to spot the first signs of someone who has a mental illness. He believes the state needs to be proactive and prevent an incident before it becomes a problem. But Nixon needs the legislature to pass the Medicaid expansion because he already has the 100-percent federally funded Medicaid coverage factored into the budget. "If we don't have the Medicaid dollars to replace those, many of these healthcare systems, mental health will be the first area that gets most of the stress," Nixon explains. Nixon is trying to get any piece of evidence he can to get the House and Senate to see his side. He asked the director of mental health to give him a report on what they would be able to do with the money and how it would affect mental health care if they didn't get the money. The director says there is at least one area that will be affected. "Now we're being asked to look more closely at what would happen if we didn't get that, particularly as we look at psychiatric in-patient services and other services around the state. We're very, very worried about that," Missouri Department of Mental Health Director Dr. Keith Schafer says. The director says the money would give about 50,000 mentally ill people coverage. But the governor believes this is a vital time in mental health. "Some help, some support will live their lives in a much fuller way. There are folks out there if we intervene early we'll not have the tragedies," Nixon says. Nixon also supports a bond issue to rebuild Fulton State Hospital. Mental health leaders say right now they're more worried about the effects on care than they are actually rebuilding the hospital.
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