The main proposal for a replacement for the Medicaid program has been introduced in the state Senate. But don’t call it the "new" Medicaid program. Governor Blunt wants it called "MO HealthNet," and that’s what the sponsor, Senator Charlie Shields of St. Joseph, is calling it. Shields and other backers say it will better serve Missourians, cost less, control expenses, and encourage more healthy living. He says the present system is focused "almost primarily on paying for disease." He wants the new system to be one that pays for good health and good outcomes. Shields says the present system is one in which "someone has to get sick before somebody can get paid."

One feature is a special points system in which HealthNet participants earn points for making and keeping appointments, getting screenings, and reaching goals set for them by a state healthcare advocate. The points can be used for co-pays, drugs, even health club memberships and other things. Shields says the new program will not restoreeligibility to the 100-thousand people cut from Medicaid. In fact, he’s not sure how many people will be eligible for the new program. But he says this bill and other healthcare and health insurance bills introduced this year will restore eligibility to many of those who lost coverage in 2005.

The bill was introduced yesterday. Hearings are expected to be held quickly so the bill ( SB577 ) can move to the Senate floor for debate.

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