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Senate Leader Calls for Medicaid Overhaul

March 14, 2005
By: Bente Birkeland
State Capital Bureau
Links: SB 539

A top Republican leader says the time has come for Missouri to eliminate its failing Medicaid system.

Bente (BEN teh) Birkeland has more from Jefferson City.

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Just minutes before the senate's debate on Medicaid cuts, President Pro Tem Mike Gibbons, from St. Louis County, says he's prepared for a long night.

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"People will be upset there's concerns about it and I wish it that could be different but it just can't."

Gibbons says the current system fails to help vulnerable people, like the poor and elderly.

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" It's not doing anything to ensure the access or delivery of health care to that vulnerable population. And it's costing more and more of the taxpayers."

Gibbons says he hopes the state will have a new Medicaid program by summer 2006.

From the state Capitol, I'm Bente Birkeland.

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A top state leader says fixing Missouri's failing Medicaid system won't be easy.

Bente (BEN teh) Birkeland has more from Jefferson City.

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Just minutes before the senate debate on Medicaid cuts, Sen, Gibbons, the President Pro Tem from St. Louis County says cutting Medicaid is a tough decision.

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"The choices are pretty stark, we've got a $200-300 million hole in the budget it's either cut education or cut Medicaid."

But Gibbons says the current system doesn't help the poor and the elderly. He says it will take time to overhaul it.

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"How do we get that care to them? How do we get the right care, at the right time, and at the right place, for the right cost. A complete failure of our current system."

The new bill would reduce the income qualifications for Medicaid recipients and eliminate some services.

From the state Capitol, I'm Bente Birkeland.