Health Care Checkup: Republicans Raise Medicaid Concerns

Health Care Checkup is a weekly rundown of the state’s top health care headlines from the last week. 

Gov. Jay Nixon | Photo from governor.mo.gov” credit=” 

Officials push for Fulton funding

Missouri mental health officials are looking to spend $211 million on replacing antiquated space at the Fulton State Hospital, according to the Southeast Missourian. The state’s Republican-led Legislature and Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon have been working on a bond package to fund improvements and construction at state facilities.

Medicaid fuels credit rating concerns

Republican members of the Senate Appropriations Committee expressed concern that an expanded Medicaid health care program could hurt Missouri’s AAA credit rating, according to the Southeast Missourian. Moody’s Investors Service last week prescribed a negative outlook to Missouri because of its reliance on the federal government. That means a downgrade in the federal government’s credit rating likely also would result in a downgrade in Missouri’s credit rating, which could cast a negative light on the future of proposed state bond issues.

Speaker seeks Medicaid vote

Rep. Tim Jones | Photo from timwjones.com” credit=” 

House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, said Nixon should put his Medicaid expansion proposal to a vote of the people if the governor wants to grow the health care program for the poor to cover an additional 260,000 people, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Republican budget leaves out Medicaid

The top budget writer for the Missouri House outlined a spending plan Feb. 14 that left out Nixon’s proposed Medicaid expansion, according to the Southeast Missourian. “It basically goes against our philosophy to expand government, and none of us campaigned on that,” said Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood.

Mental health experts offer input

Nixon asked the Mental Health Commission for feedback on what Medicaid expansion could do for mental health services in Missouri, Missourinet reported. Missouri Mental Health director Keith Schafer said the best the state can do is offer immediate crisis intervention. It cannot, however, provide and sustain long-term treatment plans, which is what many people with mental illnesses need, Schafer said.

Blunt unveils mental health bills

Sen. Roy Blunt is pushing the “Excellence in Mental Health Act” and the “Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act” as part of a series of bills that he unveiled last week, the Riverfront Times reported. The bills are part of an effort to better put federal dollars toward mental health treatment improvements. Blunt told reporters at a press conference Friday in St. Louis that gun control was not the issue at hand.


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