Governor Blunt and legislative leaders reject suggestions that they acted arbitrarily two years ago in cutting Medicaid coverage for certain medical equipment; suggestions contained in a ruling by a federal judge. The judge has ruled the state acted arbitrarily, because it denied coverage for some durable medical equipment, but not all. The ruling charges that Missouri failed to use reasonable standards in denying coverage of some medical equipment while denying it for other equipment.
House Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) says it appears to him that this is an example of an activist judge legislating from the bench. Jetton points out that the legislature increased spending on Medicaid by $269 million in the current state budget. Jetton insists that the legislature is given authority to allocate money, not the courts.
Senate leader Michael Gibbons (R-Kirkwood) won’t go that far, but disagrees that the legislature didn’t acted reasonably in making the cuts. Gibbons says the legislature faced a budget crisis and acted to shore up the budget. He says that if the legislature hadn’t acted, the entire Medicaid program would have been in danger. Gibbons says the governor and the legislature acted reasonably and rationally.
Governor Blunt says his administration is reviewing the ruling, but is more focused on moving ahead. Blunt says the administration wants a thorough review of the judge’s ruling before deciding how to respond. He quickly adds, though, that he’s not as interested in reviewing the current Medicaid system as he is in instituting a new one, one that his administration has called Missouri Health Net. Blunt says it will provide better care at less cost, though he concedes that start-up might cost more than the current program. The bill creating Missouri Health Net, SB 577 , comes before a Senate committee this week.