Republican senator offers a Missouri solution for Medicaid reform

The push for action on Missouri’s Medicaid system has gained an important new supporter with Sen. Ryan Silvey’s announcement of his new reform plan.

Sen. Silvey’s plan would allow Missouri to accept up to $2 billion in annual federal funding to help bring health coverage to uninsured Missourians. His plan ties this to a significant overhaul of the state’s existing welfare programs.

Sen. Silvey’s proposal is noteworthy in that he has crafted a unique solution to help Missouri cope with some of the hardships caused by the Affordable Care Act.

“What we are trying to do is not what the federal government wants us to do under the Affordable Care Act,” said Sen. Silvey, a Republican from Kansas City. “By virtue of us seeking a waiver and creating our own plan. This is something that we have created, not the federal government.”

Sen. Ryan Silvey

Sen. Ryan Silvey

In Missouri, the Affordable Care Act has created an unfair coverage gap, where some low-income citizens are neither covered by Medicare nor provided incentives to help them purchase private insurance. Despite the gap, the law still requires them to have insurance.

The federal government would like states to simply expand their Medicaid systems to cover these people. However, Sen. Silvey is proposing to use federal funding to help a segment of these citizens purchase insurance in the private market.

“We can’t funnel them into a broken system,” he said. “There’s no doubt that this is a Missouri solution to the problems created by ObamaCare.”

The proposal also addresses a critical point many people have raised during the Medicaid reform discussion: How will the state pay for its 10 percent share of the costs of brining health coverage to new Missourians?

Under Sen. Silvey’s plan, Missouri would cover this cost through a re-categorization of patients included in the Medicaid proposal. Changing how this group of patients is classified leads to significant savings for the state, allowing for the creation of a Budget Protection Fund, which would buffer the added cost.

In addition, his proposal includes changes to Missouri’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance welfare programs.

“I’m not interested in just expanding the welfare state in Missouri,” Sen. Silvey said. “Any way that we attack the problem of trying to get people to participate in the workforce and not just take from the government is, I think, a good thing.”

Sen. Silvey said allowing the federal funding into Missouri would provide a boost the state’s economic climate.

“The infusion of the federal money obviously would help the economy,” he said. “That money doesn’t just materialize on a spreadsheet; it actually gets spent through the health care providers who then would potentially hire more people if they have a need.”

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports Sen. Silvey’s proposal and will continue to work toward passage of Medicaid reform this session.

For more information about health care legislation, contact Brendan‎ Cossette, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, at bcossett@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.

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About mochamber

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry understands that the quality of life in our state depends on quality jobs for Missourians. To that end, we have one simple mission: to protect and advance Missouri business.

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