A serious allegation underscores the partisan tension just below the surface of the otherwise cordial meetings of the Medicaid Reform Commission. Representative Maragret Donnelly (D-St. Louis) relays the allegation while describing testimony given to Democrats in public hearings held separate from the full Commission, saying that at each stop testimony was given that someone had committed suicide after learning of cuts to services they received through Medicaid. Senator Chuck Purgason (R-Caulfield), who attended the Springfield hearing, presses Donnelly on the exact testimony given, pointing out that the person who made the charge in Springfield had said he has heard someone committed suicide, because of the Medicaid cuts.Donnelly says that while she hasn’t gotten confirmation on the Springfield allegation, she did get confirmation on a reported suicide from a Hannibal doctor. The sensitive issue strikes at the heart of the Medicaid debate. Democrats contend Republicans have ignored the human costs of their budget cuts. Others, though, caution against making a direct link between budget cuts and suicide. State Social Services Director, Gary Sherman, says he wants to investigate further those allegations. Sherman says it’s too difficult to make a direct link between budget cuts and someone taking his life.
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