Doubts loom over Democrat health care plan

By Michael Layer

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – On Sunday’s episode of This Week in Missouri Politics, Democrats spoke about their proposed state health care plan. The plan, named Healthy Missouri, is founded around several goals like expanding Medicaid, prioritizing veteran and women’s health care needs, and implementing a comprehensive PDMP to combat the opioid epidemic.

Health Missouri has been promoted by Steven Webber, a former House Democrat and current Chairman of the state’s Democrat Party. In an attempt to advertise the proposal – as well as campaign for Democrats in rural Republican districts – Missouri Democrats have joined Webber by traveling the state for the past 10 months.

“We were all over Missouri, not just in our places like St. Louis and Kansas City,” Rep. Tracy McCreery said of the ambitious plan.  “We were in Hannibal, Kirksville, laying out a proactive plan that will actually give Missourians more health choices and options and actually reduce costs. It’s a great plan.”

The plan, as McCreery explains, is revenue neutral but relies on federal incentives to expand Medicaid. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will cover 90 or more percent of the costs for states to expand their Medicaid coverage. Fiscal conservatives are worried that the state could not cover the remaining 10%. Yet McCreery remains positive.

“This plan is revenue neutral- actually revenue positive. We have not put anything in this bill that will actually cost money,” she says. “If we get back into the federal family planning program, it brings $9 million back to the state of Missouri. Right now, we’re paying it with state money. We’re leaving money on the table.”

Former Missouri state representative Jim Avery feels that Healthy Missouri’s goals are too lofty for a Republican supermajority legislature. “How are they going to pass it, though?” asks host Scott Faughn.

“That’s the million dollar question – and they’re not going to pass it because they don’t have the votes,” Avery says.  “I looked at the Democrat health care plan. There were some things that were okay. Something that really caught my attention was to limit gifts to doctors. We can’t even get the legislature to limit gifts from lobbyists!”

The panel laughs in agreement and Avery continues, “I don’t know how the legislature is going to pass – it doesn’t make sense to me.”


This story originally appeared on The Missouri Times.

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