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Letter to the Editor: Democratic Representatives responds to Medicaid letter


In his April 22 letter to the editor explaining why House Republicans are unwilling to support an expansion of Medicaid that would bring billions of federal dollars back to Missouri to boost the state’s economy and create 24,000 new jobs, state Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, made a couple of assertions that merit a response.

Rep. Bill Otto, D-St. Charles
Rep. Bill Otto, D-St. Charles

First, Rep. Rowden described Missouri’s Medicaid program as “broken” and “flawed.” The representative might be surprised to learn that the supposedly broken and flawed program was placed in its existing form in 2007 by a Republican-controlled General Assembly and a Republican governor.

In a May 18, 2007, news release heralding the final passage of Senate Bill 577, which completely overhauled the state’s Medicaid program and renamed it MO HealthNet, then-Gov. Matt Blunt praised the measure for reforming an “antiquated” Medicaid system.

Gov. Blunt and the Republican lawmakers who championed SB 577 no doubt would be disappointed that just six years later a fellow Republican considers their initiative broken and flawed.

As a freshman, I find it particularly disturbing that there is a working program that is “fundamentally flawed” but yet is allowed to operate with such problems.  Shouldn’t fixing these problems be our first responsibility to our constituents?  How much money would be saved if we fixed this “broken” system?

Rep. Rowden also said that House Republicans “are not running away” from the Medicaid expansion issue and are “tackling it head on.” However, no Republican-backed legislation on the issue was brought to the House floor until just there were just three weeks remaining in the legislative session. Discussion lasted for a mere half hour before state Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, withdrew his proposal without taking a vote and declared the matter dead for the year.

Rep. Rowden closed his letter by saying: “It’s a big challenge, but a challenge House Republicans are willing to take on.” But actions speaker louder than words, and the inaction of House Republicans on Medicaid has been deafening.

State Rep. Bill Otto

D-St. Charles