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Medicaid Reform Commission Looks for Healthy Living

November 9, 2005
By: Jonathan Levin
State Capital Bureau

The sun is setting on Medicaid in Missouri and a commission is working hard to revamp the system. Jonathan Levin has more from the state Capitol.

The Medicaid Reform Commission steered towards making Missourians more responsible for their health behavior

Debate on what role personal health responsiblity should play in the new Medicaid system focused on healthy eating, smoking prevention, and nutrition in public schools.

All are seen as measures to potentially save the Medicaid system millions in the future.

Committee Chairman Charlie Shields says its a thought process issue:

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Contents: To this point weve been focused on the disease state and not on preventing disease and I think if were gonna change the way our nation looks at health, the way our state looks at health then we have to change that mindset and one of the places you start is within the medicaid population.

Recommendations from the committee are due the first of the year.

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A governor appointed task force to redo the state's Medicaid system turned it's attention to personal responsibility. Jonathan Levin has more from Jefferson City.

In one of the Medicaid Reform Commission's final scheduled meetings, what role healthy behavior will play in the new system was the hot topic of disscussion.

Commission Chairman Charlie Shields says changing behavior in the Medicaid population can help the state tremendously:

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Contents: Its certainly one of the more difficult populations to manage but at the same time the benefits derived from changing lifestyles, changing habits are pretty dramatic in this population.

Committee members offered reductions in copay as a potential primary incentive for programs designed to encourage good nutrition and smoking sessation.

Suggestions were also made to force schools to have healthier food both inside and out of their vending machines.

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Medicaid recipients living unhealthy lifestyles might want to clean up their act under a new Medicaid system. Jonathan Levin has more from Jefferson City.

Discussion at the Medicaid Reform Commission hearing focused on monitoring and rewarding healthy living for Medicaid recipients.

Committee Chairman Charlie Shields doesn't think it's fair for the rest of the state to support people's costly behavior;

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Contents: It really gets down to when tax payer are footing the bill for individuals and they continue to exhibit high risk behaviors whether it be excessive drinking or smoking or bad eating habits.

The commission talked about potential solutions to lower copays for overweight people who sought nutritional counciling, or doing the same for people who looked for help with their smoking.

A final report is due to the governor by the first of the year.

From the state Capitol, I'm Jonathan Levin