State lawmakers have failed the past two legislative sessions to revive a public health care program for the working disabled. The old Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities program was cut in 2005, when its budget grew well beyond estimates. Efforts to revive a scaled down version haven’t been able to make it through a session. Representative Charles Portwood (R-Ballwin) sponsors the new program, called Ticket to Work, and hopes to avoid the problems of the past. The program didn’t pass last year when it became a victim of a power struggle between House and Senate leaders on Medicaid fraud. It died the last day of the session. Portwood says he has some assurances that Ticket to Work will be debated on its own, separate from Medicaid fraud. Ticket to Work is expected to cost $28 million; with the federal government paying nearly $18 million and the state paying slightly more than $10 million. It should cover just over 4,000 disabled Missourians. House Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) considers the bill very important, so important that it should hit the House floor for debate this week, paving the way to get the bill to the Senate very early in this session.
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