Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Healthcare For Missouri's Children

Her comments misunderstand and misrepresent the truth and what happened and when. The comments after the above in her posting attributed to Representative John Burnett appear to describe a debate and vote in March of 2009, not this year. Sherri has a posting today on her blog that also describes that debate and vote in March of 2009, but her post gives the impression it is covering a current debate and vote today.

The January 20th posting quotes Rep. Burnett as writing, "When the final vote came it split on exact party lines. Every single Republican voted against the children of the State and every single Democrat voted for them." That is a reference to the 2009 vote, not the vote referenced in January, which--as Rep. Ervin wrote--was 111 to 46 with more than 20 Democrats voting with Republicans.

The 2009 vote to which quotes from Rep. Burnett are attributed in the January 20th posting and Sherri's posting today refers did not propose--in truth--to add 20,000 children to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). It actually would not have added one child. It would have actually eliminated minimum premiums that were already being paid by parent(s) whose children were already on SCHIP.

That plan would not have cost just $1.9 million in state general revenue as the blog alleged, but tens of millions. I, like many Republicans, favor adding children who are SCHIP eligible but not enrolled to the program--and tens of thousands have been added in the last year through increased awareness and enrollment efforts.

The welfare expansion of Medicaid covered health care that was proposed last year would have cost upwards of a quarter-billion-dollars for children and adults, which we could not have begun to afford. Our current state general revenue is down 12.7 for the first 8 months of the current fiscal year compared to last year. January revenue was down 22.4% compared to last January. Today, we learned February revenue was down 14.6% compared to last February. The Governor has had to cut nearly $800 million from the current budget for this fiscal year.

Following Kinder's Lead, House GOP Dramatically Overstate Expected Costs of Medicaid Expansion

Like Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, House Republican leaders are going out of their way to ignore the facts and overstate the projected costs of expanded Medicaid edibility as outlined in the House- and Senate-passed health care reform bills. Today, eight GOP leaders, including Speaker Ron Richard, Floor Leader Steven Tilley and Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt wrote Gov. Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster to express their disdain for the federal proposals.

Republicans opposing health care reform en masse isn't news -- but the refusal by Missouri GOP leaders to talk about the proposed legislation should be. From a story posted today on the Star's Prime Buzz blog:

Republicans contend that could cost the state an additional $450 million a year, based on estimates released by the state Department of Social Services several months ago. Figures reflecting new iterations of the bills haven't been released, they said.

This is false, and you don't have to take my word for it. As printed in the News-Leader last week:

Kinder's claim that the Medicaid expansion could cost Missouri taxpayers "as high as $450 million per year" is much higher than what Nixon's Department of Social Services claims the House or Senate bills would cost Missouri.

DSS officials estimate the House version of Medicaid expansion would cost the state of Missouri $188 million more each year, while the Senate bill would cost state taxpayers an extra $91 million each year.

The Republican leaders don't appear to be contesting the accuracy of the updated estimates from the Department of Social Services -- they're just pretending they don't exist.

Here's an excerpt from an October story in The Beacon:

Nodler and Icet's letter said that the Department of Social Services estimated that the plan would add around 200,000 people to Missouri's program at a cost to state of between $392 million and $454 million.

Scott Rowson, a spokesman for the Department of Social Services, said the more recently passed Senate Finance Committee version of the bill would cost the state around $91 million.

Rowson said the cost could change depending on how the provision is crafted in the final version of the bill.

No one pretends that expanding health care coverage to more low-income Missourians will be free. But the Lieutenant Governor -- and now House GOP leaders -- are choosing to use outdated estimates from the Department of Social Services they know (or should know) are false.

Submitted by .Sean on January 14, 2010 - 1:39pm

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