Governor Blunt tours the state today, holding signing ceremonies for the bill that replaces Missouri’s Medicaid program. MO HealthNet, SB 577 , ushers in a new health care program for the poor at a cost estimated to be between $50-and-60 million dollars a year.
It was a top priority of the governor’s the past legislative session.
Sen. Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph) was the lead sponsor of MO HealthNet. Shields says work to replace Medicaid began in 2005 when the Republican-led legislature cut the health-care program and began holding hearings on proposed changes to Medicaid. Shields says MO HealthNet changes the outlook of the state program, from one that pays for treatment to one that emphasizes wellness and prevention.
A major provision of MO HealthNet is the so-called “health care home”. Shields says that likely will be a primary care physician for most recipients. It will give recipients a place to go not just for treatment, but for advice on how to be healthy and prevent sickness. Other incentives are offered to reduce the number of trips to the doctor’s office or the hospital emergency room.
Republicans cited budget concerns in 2005 when they pushed through the legislation that cut 90,000 Missourians from Medicaid. Democrats point out the budget has turned around and says the cuts should have been restored. Shields rejects the premise. He insists that restoring the cuts, without changing the system, would have returned the state to the budget problems it faced two years ago. Shields says critics don’t fairly portray MO HealthNet, conveniently ignoring the cuts it does restore to women, children and the working disabled. He says 900,000 Missourians will be covered by the new program.
Governor Blunt has stops planned for Springfield, Kansas City, St. Joseph and St. Louis today as he tours the state to talk about the new program.