Critics Address HealthNet

9 years 9 months 1 week ago April 13, 2007 Apr 13, 2007 Friday, April 13 2007 Friday, April 13, 2007 9:58:58 PM CDT in News

After a car accident left him paralyzed, Columbia resident Robert Pund had to rely on attendant care that only Medicaid will provide. But in order to qualify for Medicaid, he must meet the poverty level.

"I would like to contribute to society and work and pay taxes, but I'm not allowed to do that; it really goes against common sense," said Pund.

In order to be eligible for Medicaid, patients must meet 85% of the federal poverty guidelines, which means a single person cannot earn more than $8,679 per year and a married couple can only earn $11,367 per year.

The Van Dykes, Columbia residents, are both on Medicaid. They say they would be more applicable to the program if they were divorced and didn't work.

"There's a lot of people that want to work, but if they go to work they lose help. If they go to work they pay more spend out. It's just a no-win situation, " said Alice Van Dyke.

Representatives are concerned this bill won't fix Medicaid's problems.

"The bill only marginally addresses the health care cuts that were made two years ago and does not restore enough people to the program to both get our federal dollars back and to address the real crisis in our emergency rooms and our care providers," said Missouri Representative Judy Baker.

Cuts to Medicaid spending also mean the state loses reimbursements from the federal government. According to a report issued by the house budget office, the state lost $298.2 million in 2006, it will lose $396.4 million in 2007, and another $469.8 million in 2008. It's not easy to find money to add back into the budget.

"Medicaid reform has got to be a process, not just a single bill in that it's going to take a lot of time and it's going to take a lot of money. Money which we don't have a this time," said Missouri Representative Robert Schaaf.

People who don't meet the guidelines, aren't eligible for Medicare, these are the people that Baker wants restored.

"It does not restore health care to the 180,000 people who are designated to be living in poverty," said Baker.

Pund hopes this bill will change the system, but he doesn't expect much to change soon. Now that the senate passed the Missouri HealthNet bill, it will go before the House sometime in the next few weeks.

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