As the vote to decide whether Missouri will become the next state to expand Medicaid coverage approaches, the debate continues over the controversial ballot initiative.
Regional Health Commission Medical Director Dr. Heidi Miller and GOP state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman appeared on Sunday’s episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” to discuss the upcoming initiative that will come before voters on Aug. 4.
Miller said there are currently more than 200,000 uninsured patients in Missouri.
“The majority of these patients work and either don’t have health insurance available to them or can’t afford it,” she said. “I take care of these patients; although I do the best that I can as a primary care doctor, those patients without access to knee surgery for a knee injury or a stress test for chest pain, it’s very agonizing trying to take care of patients when I don’t have the tools available to me to take care of them.”
“There’s no doubt that our health care system is broken; the costs are astronomical, they continue to get more expensive,” said Coleman. “About 40 percent of our budget is going to the Medicaid program without expansion. We’re gonna have to do something differently and expand it while we’re having these budget cuts. I just don’t know where the money is gonna come from.”
Both sides discussed the cost of health care, the results of expansion in other states, Medicaid’s place in the state budget, possible revenue increases, who receives coverage, and the cutoff period for maternal health care coverage.
Police reform and COVID-19
Missouri Planned Parenthood spokesperson Jesse Lawder and state Rep. Steve Roberts also appeared on the show to discuss Medicaid expansion, the upcoming election, COVID-19 pandemic and testing, Clean Missouri, mask requirements, and police reform following the death of George Floyd.
“One of the most frustrating things for me is that we finally have a video but this isn’t something new, these things have been going on since before I was born,” said Roberts, who proposed multiple police reform measures in June. “Something I think we could do would be requiring officers to intervene and disclose situations where they view excessive force, just like me and all my colleagues who are elected officials. If we see something inappropriate happening, we are required to report it and if we don’t, we can be penalized.”
“I think one of the main problems that we have in looking at the criminal justice system and police reform is we look at these things often in a policy bubble,” said Lawder. “We ignore a lot of the intersectionality and root causes of the activities that people are ending up in the criminal justice system for. We have structural racism baked into every fabric of our society, and until we can start to root those things out, police reform isn’t really going to solve the problem.”
Watch the full episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” below.