A plan to provide health insurance to thousands of Missourians who cannot afford it finds critics who say the state would not be doing nearly enough. The Senate could take debate on the so-called "Missouri Health Transformation Act" into a second day.
Senator Tom Dempsey’s bill addresses things like healthy buildings, preventive services, and tax credits for handicap accessibility of homes. It expands last year’s Mohealthnet program, the re-named and slimmed-down Medicaid program, and it proposes to enact a variation of the Governor’s "Insure Missouri" proposal.
Democrats who’ve been trying to reinstate full Medicaid coverage for the 400-thousand people affected by Governor Blunt’s program cuts in 2005 cannot get bipartisan support to change this bill. Senator Rita Days acknowledges the proposal will insure 90-thousand uninsured Missourians in the first year. But she says that’s not enough and it won’t keep up with a worsening economy that could see more employers drop health insurance for their employees or even go out of business.
Republicans say they made the cuts in ’05 because Medicaid was consuming so much of the state budget that other programs, services, and institutions would have to take spending reductions if something wasn’t done. Dempsey says his proposal will provide coverage to more than 200-thousand people by the time it’s fully phased in. Democrats think the state can do better. Republicans say the Democrats need to find a way to finance their better idea without taking money away from other parts of the state budget.