Letter: Stakes are high: It’s time to reform Medicaid

Significant progress was made in the Missouri House and Senate on Medicaid reform this year. Although we have yet to see a bill passed by either chamber, the framework for next year is in place. A “Missouri solution,” including both reform and expansion, has a legislative champion in each chamber.
It’s clear the case for action has been made. Tens of thousands of Missourians made their voices heard through calls, letters and personal visits to lawmakers. The message from Missouri voters, business and provider groups, the faith community and health care advocates was that further delay is unacceptable.
There’s a lot at stake. Every day of inaction means that more than $5 million of Missouri taxpayer dollars are lost – funds that could be used to improve the health of citizens and the health care system. Hundreds of thousands of working Missourians are caught in a ‘coverage gap’ since lawmakers didn’t adopt a plan this year. Costs to businesses and those with private health insurance will increase without a corresponding increase in value. And, hospitals will continue to experience cuts to payments designed to be offset in part by newly covered Missourians — coverage that hasn’t materialized. The health care community will shed jobs, reduce capital investment and limit services. This will impact the broader economy.
Medicaid reform offers the opportunity to create value for the state, the business community and Missouri citizens. As more Missourians now understand the need for reform and the value it will create, pressure for action has increased.
The push for reform will continue – in the interim, and into next year. This year’s progress has provided the foundation for bill pre-filing in December. We are optimistic the progress made in 2014 will lead to consensus in 2015. The stakes are too high not to take action.

– Dan Mehan, president/CEO, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Joe Pierle, CEO, Missouri Primary Care Association; Herb B. Kuhn, president/CEO, Missouri Hospital Association; Thomas L. Holloway, executive vice president, Missouri State Medical Association

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