Wednesday, February 1
This morning, the Senior, Families and Children Committee of the Missouri Senate voted 4-2 to advance SB 28, sponsored by Sen. David Sater (R-Cassville).
SB 28 would put into motion a process that could slash funding for Missouri’s Medicaid program. A decrease in funding would have devastating impacts on Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens.
The bill instructs Missouri to apply for a waiver for a “block grant” for the state’s Medicaid program. Under a block grant, the state would get a pre-set amount of money from the federal government for our Medicaid program, regardless of actual health costs. Recent block grant proposals would result in deep cuts to Missouri’s federal funding for Medicaid.
“Under a block grant scenario, if the state experiences higher health costs due to a flu pandemic, natural disaster, or recession, we are on the hook to meet the costs, with no additional help from the federal government,” explains Jen Bersdale, Executive Director of Missouri Health Care for All.
A drastic decrease in federal funding for Medicaid would almost certainly force Missouri to ration or cut care for Medicaid participants, most of whom are children, seniors, or people with disabilities.
Furthermore, the bill would cede control of the $9 billion program to a small committee of 10 people, with little accountability to Missouri voters. Decisions about a program that serves so many vulnerable Missourians should be made by the full General Assembly, with full transparency.
“With SB 28, we are talking about giving 10 people the power to cut Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens off from their health care,” says Bersdale. “We know what the consequences would be: worsening health, preventable hospitalizations, lower educational achievements for children, and avoidable deaths.”
Medicaid is a lifesaving program for many Missourians, and is also a significant contributor to the economy in communities throughout the state.
“A bill that puts the state at financial risk, cuts kids off from their health care, and sidesteps a fair legislative process is lose-lose-lose. It’s a bad deal for the state, and Missouri’s senators should reject it,” Bersdale says.