Medicaid and the new health care law took center stage Wednesday at the annual Eggs and Issues breakfast.
Rolla’s two legislators — State Rep. Keith Frederick and State Sen. Dan Brown, both Republicans — spoke at the event held at Oak Meadow Country Club.
“Medicaid reform or Medicaid transformation to some folks means Medicaid expansion. To others it means improving the program we have in place,” said Frederick, who sits on the MO HealthNet Oversight Committee, which oversees the state’s Medicaid program.
"I think there are two separate silos to be considered. One is do we expand the Medicaid population? Or do we improve it? Do we attempt to reform it? I'm of firm belief that instead of asking a lot of folks to jump into a sinking boat, which is what Medicaid currently represents, we should strive to improve the program first, demonstrate an improved outcome for patients and then consider if the resources are available to expand the program."
Frederick said the current process doesn’t serve patients medical providers and taxpayers well.
The state representative cited a study that looked at Medicaid expansion in Oregon, which showed no measureable improvement in people’s health there after two years.
“But expenses went up,” Frederick said, adding that he feels Medicaid is adding to the federal deficit and pushes the bill onto the next generation.
Frederick also said he believes that disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments should be reinstated for hospitals in states that did not expand Medicaid, like Missouri.
Next session, Frederick said he would like to see some form of Medicaid reform that uses health savings accounts (HSAs) as a “fundamental cornerstone.”
Brown said Medicaid was initially set up for the disabled and blind populations, but said that Medicaid expansion in Missouri would have added 320,000 “abled-bodied persons ... the working poor.
“I don’t know if the medical care of those people is our responsibility,” Brown said, adding that he feels it is easy for those individuals to get another job. Brown said that health care is one-sixth of this country’s economy. Brown said he can’t understand “how (Barack) Obama can’t see one-sixth of the economy is important when he says that health care has nothing to do with the budget.”
With a national debt nearing $17 trillion, Brown said there is not much leeway to fund social programs. “We’ve got to get down to business and pay the bills,” the senator said.
The two lawmakers also fielded questions about school safety and gun laws as well as how state residents’ privacy is being protected.
Page 2 of 2 - CenturyLink and the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event.