If you’ve been anywhere close to Jefferson City in the last few months, chances are you’ve heard the words ‘Medicaid expansion’ no less than 1,000 times. Everyone thought it was going to be a signature issue coming into this session, and they were right. But as we approach the end of this session, the House and Senate have made it clear that rubber-stamp Medicaid expansion isn’t going to happen this year.
Now that we have that out of the way, we can begin another conversation…finding a way to transform and reform a program that people on both sides of the aisle will freely admit is broken. That reality begs a simple question…how is adding 300,000 Missourians to a fundamentally flawed program good for our state? House Republicans have concluded that it isn’t, and many in Missouri agree.
As I’ve talked with my colleagues throughout this debate, many are frustrated that we feel like we have been bullied into participating into this ‘one size fits all’ solution that we don’t think is in the best interest of Missourians. We feel like a solution designed by Missourians for Missourians is the right answer for the fine citizens of this state. We also believe that we will not have the leverage we have right now to transform Medicaid again for a long time. Our time to act is now.
Over the past few weeks, I have personally met with hospital executives from mid-Missouri, doctors, social workers, and people currently on Medicaid. I know some of my colleagues have been doing the same. Representative Jay Barnes has been engaging in the reform discussion for several months now, and his work should be commended. We are not running away from this issue, as many have accused us of doing. We are tackling it head on.
We have been elected by our constituents to do the tough work, and make the tough decisions. I contend rubber stamp expansion would have been the easy thing to do as legislators. I also think it would have been the wrong thing to do. We have a unique, exciting opportunity to fundamentally change a broken program, and in the process provide better outcomes and health care solutions for the middle class and working poor in our state. It’s a big challenge, but a challenge House Republicans are willing to take on.
— From Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia
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