Monday, November 05, 2007

House Dems Want to Reinstate All Medicaid Cuts

House Democratic leaders are once again proposing to reverse the 2005 Medicaid cuts and reinstate tens-of-thousands of low-income and disabled Missourians cut from the state rolls two years ago.

The Democratic leaders want to reinstate coverage for 180,000 Missourians.

In a press release, the Dems note that because of changes in eligibility a parent with two children who earns more than $292 a month – just $3,504 a year – doesn’t qualify for coverage.

According to the Department of Social Services, restoring coverage to 2005 levels would have cost the state $155.8 million in general revenue for the current fiscal year, reads the release.

Providing that money would have allowed Missouri to get an additional $265 million dollars in funding from the federal government.

“Because of the state’s disastrous health care policies, the number of uninsured Missourians has spiked nearly 16 percent – three times the national rate,” said House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Independence, citing U.S. Census Bureau figures released this summer. “Cutting health care was a mistake and thousands of Missourians have suffered as a result. We simply cannot afford to let yet another year pass without undoing the damage.”

The Democratic health care agenda also includes legislation by state Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, to establish a Missouri Health Policy Authority to oversee the state’s role in health care, which is currently spread over several state departments and numerous boards and commissions. Kansas was the first state to establish such an authority and several others have since followed suit.

“Instead of creating more bureaucracy Missouri must streamline what it already has to ensure we get the most out of every taxpayer dollar spent on health care,” Baker said. “This will provide us a comprehensive and systematic approach to a pathway toward providing access to health care coverage for all Missourians.”

Also from the release:

The authority would consist of an 11-member board of health care professionals appointed by the governor subject to Senate approval. It would function as the umbrella state agency for comprehensive health care policy. An office of inspector general would be established under the authority as a watchdog for corporate provider fraud and abuse and to ensure efficient allocation of state health care resources.

The Democratic plan also emphasizes prevention measures, including addressing Missouri’s ranking among the worst states in terms of smoking and obesity rates. House Democrats are calling for at least $6 million to be allocated in next year’s budget for smoking cessation programs.

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