No details have been released yet, but Governor Blunt says he will propose an overhaul of the Medicaid system during the legislative session. Blunt acknowledges his administration hasn’t settled on anything concrete yet, but the principle guiding it will be a focus on prevention, which could actually increase costs over the old Medicaid program. Blunt says any increased costs up-front, though, will result in savings in the long-run. Blunt says other savings can be found in tapping federal revenue, saying an argument can be made that there are a lot of federal funding mechanisms that aren’t used well. Blunt says any plan that replaces Medicaid must avoid the mistakes of the past that created a program that grew beyond the state’s ability to pay. He says he will try to learn the lessons of other states, which have seen changes drive up costs. Blunt adds Missouri must learn from its own mistakes, such as its former program for disabled workers. The governor says the Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD) program was projected to cost $15 million a year. It, instead, grew into a program that cost the state $14 million a month. Blunt says MAWD is an example of how difficult it is to predict the costs of programs. Blunt, as well as many in the legislature, say health care will be a top priority of the session which begins in less than two weeks. Past action has forced the discussion. The legislature has approved a bill that ends Medicaid in 2008. Legislative leaders say this is the year to approve a new, replacement program.
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