The major overhaul of Missouri’s Medicaid program has been approved by the legislature on the last day of the legislative session.
The Senate was the first to approve compromise legislation finally worked out early this morning. St. Joseph Senator Charlie Shields, one of the architects of the bill, says months of work have gone into the new program, known as MO Health Net. He says, "It represents a significant opportunity..for this state to move the issue of healthcare reform, particularly Medicaid reform, forward."
The House began debate on the proposal mid-afternoon. Democrats assailed the new program. House Democratic leader Jeff Harris (D-Columbia) says the votes make the Medicaid cuts pushed by Republicans two years ago permanent. The House sent an amended SB 577 to Governor Blunt on a partisan vote of 92-to-67. Only one Democrat in the House voted for the bill.
Lawmakers say the present Medicaid program is unaffordable. Critics say the new plan still does not provide health care to thousands of low income Missourians who were cut from the program in 2005.