New MO HealthNet
Lawmakers went into the year knowing they had to reform health care before Medicaid sunsets next year. Slowly legislators are working to find a plan that pleases everyone. And with only two days left in the legislative session, a crowd gathered at the capitol Wednesday to push their interests. More than 50 people showed up with signs, nets and fishing poles to bring attention to what they call a "bad fishing expedition."
"The proposed MO HealthNet plan are sending one billion dollars back to the federal government and refusing to cover our most needy people and that's not all right." Missouri resident Kay Miller said.
Advocates say the proposed versions of MO HealthNet don't adequately restore health care cuts from two years ago. The Missouri Budget Project has noticed several problematic areas with the new policy.
- Working families with very low incomes will continue to be shut out of the program.
- It prioritizes the reimbursement to physicians to that of the rate of Medicaid.
- Children considered for the program will remain drastically lower than that prior to 2005.
- It allows providers to asses co-payments paid by Medicaid recipients.
- It sets in place a system of penalties and rewards for providers to meet specific performance targets.
"We're here today because we think Medicaid reform should be a really high priority for this legislative session and here we are, the last week of the session, with just three days left and really no meaningful reform has been enacted." Ruth Ehresman of Missouri Budget Project said.
In 2005, the legislature cut Medicaid, pushing many Missourians off the system. It also voted to end the current Medicaid system by next year, replacing it with MO HealthNet. A group of house and senate members is working now on a compromise version of two different HealthNet bills.
"It's a slow process, the differences are trying to be ironed out between the two versions and I think it's a slow tedious process, but we're still hoping that by 6 PM on Friday we have a new Missouri health plan." Rep. Carl Bearden said.
Even though Bearden wants to see a new plan by Friday, he isn't ruling out a special session. The legislation has been in the works for almost two years, but democrats argue the changes will do little to help the poor get health insurance.