The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

April 8, 2013

Our View: It's the sound choice

— Even though the Missouri House of Representatives has approved a budget that does not include federal dollars to expand Missouri’s Medicaid program, it doesn’t mean the expansion deal is dead in our state.

Nor should it.

Our Republican lawmakers this past week have shown a real spirit of cooperation and want to reform Missouri’s Medicaid program to make it more efficient. Many, we think, want an expansion if it can be a fiscally sound approach.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon wants to add 300,000 uninsured Missourians to Medicaid. But the Republican supermajority has rejected those efforts. On Wednesday, Nixon took his case to those lawmakers and it would appear there may be a middle ground.

While the final product might not look like what Nixon envisioned, he said he is optimistic that it could have the same end results.

Here’s what counts:

• Improving the health of Missourians will save taxpayer dollars.

• Keeping workers from having to choose to keep their jobs or get medical coverage is a conservative choice — especially if reforms are enacted.

• Missouri lawmakers have the opportunity now to reform and transform Medicaid.

• Missourian’s tax dollars will come back to Missouri rather than being used in other states.

Medicaid already covers 880,000 people in Missouri. Coverage is available to children whose families earn three times the poverty level, about $58,600 annually for a single mother of two. Yet, that mother cannot get Medicaid coverage for herself unless her income is less than $3,700 a year.

Making families have to make the choice of keeping their jobs or receiving medical coverage is the antitheses of conservative principles.

We want people to work, but they shouldn’t have to go bankrupt to do so.

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