Republican senator seeking to expand Medicaid for veterans

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COLUMBIA - One Missouri state senator has developed what some are calling a "conservative solution" to reform and expand Medicaid in the state. 

Senator Ryan Silvey, R-Clay County, said he plans to pre-file a bill that would expand Medicaid to cover "thousands of Missouri veterans and their families."

"It is a shame that so many veterans live at or below the federal poverty level," Silvey said in a news release. "Legislative inaction on Medicaid in Missouri has restricted health care coverage for these men and women and their families."

The Missouri Association of Veterans Organizations, or MAVO, is comprised of 24 federally chartered Veterans Organizations. Its sole purpose is to bring these organizations together and speak in one voice on their common interests and concerns. 

"We work on legislative issues in the Missouri state legislature on behalf of Missouri veterans and their families," said Dewey Reihn, the legislative chairman for the Missouri Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars. "We have no other agenda, in MAVO, other than working on legislative issues."

The targeted group for this movement is the population that makes up what MAVO calls the "donut hole." The term is used to define people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to purchase private insurance on the health care marketplace. 

MAVO and Senator Silvey are looking to address veterans families, specifically. 

"We know we have veterans that are covered by the VA, but their families aren't," Reihn said. "We know that we have veterans that are low income, moderate income ... and would meet some of the thresholds that would make them eligible for some kind of assistance through the Medicaid program if it was enhanced."

According to MAVO, Senator Silvey plans to include the following reforms in his bill:

  • Replace the Medicaid system with "private managed care" and commercial insurance
  • Create Health Savings Accounts
  • Require food stamp recipients to participate in secondary education, job search, community service, job training, or employment
  • Enhance current efforts to prevent fraud and abuse of the system

KOMU 8 News reached out to Governor Nixon's office for comment. Press Secretary Scott Holste said it was too early to comment on proposed legislation, but the governor has "long supported expanding Medicaid."

Lawmakers may begin pre-filing legislation as early as December 1.