No issue has divided Republicans and Democrats in state government more than changes to Medicaid. The signing of the MO Health Net bill, SB 577 , has only intensified the argument.
Rep. Jeff Harris (D-Columbia) as Minority Floor Leader is the top Democrat in the House. He won’t concede a thing on MO HealthNet, completely critical of the change to Medicaid. He even mocks Governor Blunt’s first stop on his ceremonial bill signing tour: a Jiffy Lube in Springfield. Blunt says the governor equates health care with an oil change and that shows that the governor is out of touch with everyday Missourians.
But Governor Blunt, a Republican, says Harris misses the point; that a motorist can go to any Jiffy Lube in the country and it will have information on his car. Blunt says people are more important than cars and should be able to have their health care information as easily available. Blunt says MO HealthNet emphasizes technology in its effort to focus on wellness and prevention, not just paying medical bills.
The overhaul of Medicaid comes two years after Republicans cut 90,000 recipients from the program. Republicans contend a sagging state budget forced the budget cuts. Harris won’t even concede that. He says Republicans can’t justify the cuts, because of the budget. Blunt counters that everyone at the Capitol knew the budget situation in 2005 called for either a cut in services or an increase in taxes. And the governor adds that Harris was in the legislature at the time and should know that.