State lawmakers return to Jefferson City today to begin a new legislative session. Medicaid reform will be a top priority. Senate Majority Leader Charlie Shields of St. Joseph doesn’t hesitate to say Medicaid is a major issue. Shields says health care reform will dominate the session as the legislature stares down the 2008 deadline to end the current Medicaid system. Shields co-chaired the Medicaid Reform Commission. He says lawmakers hesitated to take up the commission’s recommendations last session, because Governor Blunt hadn’t outlined his priorities. That will come this year, most likely in the State of the State address. Representative Margaret Donnelly, a Democrat from St. Louis, will be listening to hear whether Republicans intend to expand coverage. Donnelly says Democrats won’t be content unless the proposal put forward this session expands health care coverage and restores coverage for those cut from the program. Democrats have been harshly critical of Republicans in general, and Governor Blunt in particular, for cutting the Medicaid budget, leaving 90,000 Missourians without coverage.
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