Senators considering the future of the Medicaid program hear from more than twenty people who know about it from the inside.  The main question for senators is whether to expand the program, which the Affordable Care Act offers incentives for the state to do.  Some committee members suggest the real question is whether to reform the program.  But there has been no doubt among the 22 people who testified that the program could do with both, but ultimately the answer is to expand it. 

Jefferson City businessman John Orear is a familiar face and voice to lawmakers, urging improved  Medicaid mental health services– for people like his son, who could not get Medicaid coverage and turned to illegal drugs to get relief for his bipolar disorder.

                                             AUDIO: Orear 24:32

Spokesman Todd Richardson with Missouri Community Action has told the committee 15-25% of Missouri’s population lacks health insurance, and one-fourth of the jobs in the state pay below-poverty wages…

                                       AkUDIO: Richardson 6:12

Executive Director Andrea Routh (ruth) of Kansas City points to a Commonwealth study showing small businesses are having the most trouble providing health insurance coverage for workers.

                                        AUDIO: Routh 25:03

And spokeswoman Jackie Lukitsch with the St. Louis chapter of the National Alliance for the Mental Illness says the situation is sometimes a case of “Pay me now or pay me more later.” 

                                  AUDIO: Lukitsch 10:01

Some of those testifying, such as Jefferson City minister Michelle Scott-Huffman, say the program needs to expand to help the working poor who are too often an invisible part of society.

                                   AUDIO: Scott-Huffman 3:58

The Senate committee plans more hearings before it write recommendations for next year’s legislative session.