The Republican leadership has successfully passed a bill that will take health insurance from thousands of disabled, elderly, and impoverished Missourians including children. You might think these actions to be immoral enough but how they did it is even more callous and corrupt.
Republican leaders argued that the cuts were needed to prevent fraud and pointed to instances where people who didn’t need Medicaid obtained it. Yet what did their solution address? Their solution didn’t target fraud at all. Indeed, unless the wording was pulled at the last minute, the bill also would end the entire Medicaid system by mid 2008. It would establish a committee to make something new in its place, much like moving out of a house before you have another place to move into.
Governor Blunt who master minded the whole idea argued that Missouri’s Medicaid program costs are higher than all states except one. What he did not tell the citizens is that his figures included federal funding. As the Center for Budget and policy priorities has noted, “to determine the effects of Medicaid on the state budget… it is not appropriate to include federal Medicaid funds.” The federal government picks up more than 60% of all Medicaid expenditures in Missouri.
The fact that Blunt used misleading data to support his immoral policy was most likely intentional. He chose political gain over the truth.
Could you imagine a city official in Jerusalem asking Jesus how he could get into heaven and Jesus replies, "give less assistance to the disabled and to the poor to balance the budget?" Where are the guardians of moral values? Where are they? They fought hard to stop this. Over 10% of those voting against the Medicaid cuts were Republicans. I celebrate their principled stand. I will also note that not a single Democrat supported what Representative Barnitz called, “the legislative equivalent of pushing someone in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs.”
Commentary by Seth Jackson, MSW student, SMSU