Healthcare Hurdle
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Healthcare Hurdle

Date: October 20, 2008
By: Rebecca Layne
State Capitol Bureau

Intro:  In the presidential campaign this year, expanding healthcare coverage for uninsured Americans has emerged as a major issue. It's also been a major issue in the campaign for Missouri's governor. Rebecca Layne has more from Jefferson City. RunTime:2:28
OutCue: SOC

When Governor Matt Blunt made Medicaid cuts in 2005, more than 100,000 Missourians were affected.


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Description: The program and eligibility changes included in this budget were not easily reached decisions. But we have put off the tough decisions for too long. Now is the time for decisive action. Missourians can no longer afford the second most expensive Medicaid program in the United States.

Just months after that address to lawmakers by Blunt, the legislature approved his proposed cuts in Medicaid by a near party-line vote.

But the issue was far from resolved. Democrats continue to argue for restoration of the cuts. And Republicans, including Blunt himself, have proposed alternative plans for expanding government-funded health care coverage.

Republican candidate Kenny Hulshof proposes his HealthMAX program. This would be available to every Missourian, be portable across jobs and be available to both businesses and individuals.

HealthMAX would provide plans connected to Health Savings Accounts to low-income Missourians, which the state would pay the premiums for.

Republican Hulshof describes the cost of the program:

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Description: The way we pay for it is about a $50 million hit to general revenue. We have a number of ways to help pay for it with our savings. I think we can find about 3 percent savings within the current Healthnet. We also look to Missouri Foundations for Health which has about 1.4 to 1.8 billion dollars in assets that we could provide a funding stream to help make this available.

Although Hulshof agreed with the 2005 healthcare cuts, Jay Nixon says he would restore these slashed cuts and increase healthcare for children through the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

Compared to Hulshof's, Nixon's plan is more tax-based.

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Description: Sixty percent of my plan is already paid for in a sense that Missourians pay the taxes that go to other states. So most of these programs are federal state match programs. For kids it's 70-30, for adults it's 60-40, so when we talk about paying for it you got to be smart about getting these federal dollars in play, especially in these kids's programs where it's 70 percent federal, 30 percent state. Literally we're putting up one dollar and getting two dollars back. The rest of the cost for the program is a priority for me.

With a high number of uninsured in Missouri, implementing cost-effective healthcare to all Missourians will be a large hurdle for the next governor. Reporting from Jefferson City, I'm Rebecca Layne.

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