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KC Star: "The Senate must undo the damage"

In this morning's paper:

Uninsured patients and hospitals in Missouri got a double dose of bad news last week.

The House rejected a creative proposal to expand health coverage to 35,000 people. And a new report showed hospitals and communities are straining to care for uninsured patients...

An agreement between Gov. Jay Nixon and the Missouri Hospital Association depends on the General Assembly increasing Medicaid eligibility limits to 50 percent of the poverty level.

Current eligibility stops with adults who earn more than 20 percent of the poverty level. That amounts to $4,410 a year for a family of four, a shockingly low threshold.

The proposal would ease the health care burden for families, hospitals and communities. People could seek treatment earlier and for less cost. Hospitals would be less inclined to increase rates for insured customers.

In other words, everyone wins. But the package went nowhere when the House passed its budget proposal last week...

The Senate is expected in coming days to debate both Nixon’s agreement with the Hospital Association and a separate proposal to make state funding available to help the working poor purchase private insurance policies.

With thousands of Missourians unemployed and dealing with dwindling incomes, legislative leaders must make a renewed effort to work with Nixon and approve a plan to expand access to medical care.

The Missouri Hospital Association has made an offer that lawmakers really can’t afford to refuse. It’s incredible that the House has done so. The Senate must undo the damage.



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