Friday, July, 12, 2013
This week an interim committee of the Missouri Senate began to examine the state’s Medicaid program to see how it can be reformed and possibly expanded to cover more of the uninsured. On Monday, the Missouri Senate Research staff provided a PowerPoint presentation – Medicaid 101 – that offered a broad overview of the program. On Tuesday, public testimony was taken from citizens and organizations. Some of the witnesses urged the committee to expand Medicaid, while others suggested reforms to the current program.
Erin Brower with Partnership for Children encouraged the Senate panel to expand Medicaid to cover poor working parents because when parents have health care their children are more likely to have better health outcomes as well. Joanie Gilliam, a health representative that assists the disabled, told the committee that the Medicaid asset limit needed to be raised so that more of her clients could remain at home instead of in a skilled care setting.
Dr. Mark Bradford, a psychologist from Springfield, recommended that the Medicaid reimbursement rates for psychological services be raised and that mental health services should not be included in any managed care plans. Andrea Routh with the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance highlighted current statistics on the state’s uninsured and noted that by expanding Medicaid to 138% of the federal poverty level more Missourians would have access to health care services.
Joel Ferber, a policy analyst with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, urged the committee to expand Medicaid, but advocated for reforms that would bring more flexibility, cost sharing and better delivery of services to the medically needy.
Committee members took advantage of the expertise of the witnesses by asking questions to become better informed on health care delivery in Missouri. The Senate committee plans another public hearing in August.