Occasionally my name will come up on the floor of the House or Senate. Most of the time, it’s a kind reference. Other times, it’s not so kind and without exception, demonstrably untrue. Such was the case last week.

During debate on Senator Gary Romine’s Medicaid reform bill, Senator John Lamping and four other senators made it clear they would not let the bill pass as a vehicle for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. There are a number of stalwart, conservative senators who have made this point very clear. Their point has irritated some including Senator Ryan Silvey.

Senator Silvey challenged Senator Lamping on his basic principle of opposing Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Senator Silvey accused Lamping of being guilty of “…lofty philosophy of sound bites…”. Anyone who knows Senator Lamping knows that he isn’t a sound bite kind of guy – he’s the real deal with real facts. And that presents a problem for those who want to implement some form of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

During this debate, Senator Silvey mentioned me and said I was “…paid to be conservative.” The debate was halted shortly thereafter and Senator Silvey did not get to finish his explanation of my “paid conservatism”. However, his Chief of Staff attempted to continue the knowingly false accusation on Facebook.

The underlying premise of this attack on my conservatism is based on my time as House Budget Chairman. As budget chair, I worked with a budget that allegedly funded the highest level of Medicaid recipients in state history. I actually haven’t checked to see if this “fact” is true because it’s irrelevant to the matter at hand.

The House budget reflected the minimum funding necessary to meet the requirements of state law which covered 133% of most populations. All Senators and Representatives take an oath to uphold the US and state constitutions and state law. We did just that all the while trying to reform Medicaid.

Even while battling Governor Holden over his desire to have a $700m – $1b tax increase, gag orders on departments to prevent them from talking with the legislature and declining state revenues, the House attempted to reform Medicaid as soon as we became the majority beginning in calendar year 2003. We were unsuccessful in making huge changes while Governor Holden was in office. And honestly, even moderate changes were successfully opposed by the Republican controlled Senate.

We successfully reformed Medicaid in 2005 when Governor Blunt took office. These reforms helped, but Medicaid continues to be a burden and consumption of massive resources in the state budget today. And that’s without any Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

The accusation is that we did nothing to reduce the Medicaid budget and that we did nothing to try to change the Medicaid law. The fact that I and others tried to change Medicaid all along is captured in an article published in April of 2004:

Now, House and Senate negotiators will begin working out compromises on budget items where they differ. By law, the budget must be sent to Holden by May 7.

The main bone of contention will be Medicaid. House Republicans want to rein in the program, which now pays for 40 percent of the state’s births and 70 percent of all nursing home bills.

Their proposals would cut about 48,480 people by imposing asset limits and reducing the income threshold for working parents to qualify. An additional 20,000 children might be dropped from the program because their parents might refuse to pay the premiums in the House plan, state officials say.

Senators have balked at most of the cuts, except for imposing co-payments of 50 cents to $3 for some services. GOP House members want more.

“We will get some Medicaid cuts,” Bearden vowed. “Will they be everything we proposed? Obviously not.”

Bearden, who has taken heat for the proposals, said he had no regrets. On his desk sat a sign that read: “What is popular is not always right. What is right is not always popular.”

The proof that I was a conservative pushing for Medicaid reforms before they happened and before I ever worked for a conservative organization is without question and disproves those who would say otherwise. It’s a ridiculous tactic to employ as is the attack on the conservative credentials of those senators opposing Obamacare Medicaid expansion as talking points or rhetoric.

Speaking of talking points, they aren’t needed when the facts don’t support Obamacare Medicaid expansion in any form. The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment (OHIE) shows these facts:

  • Those covered under the Medicaid expansion in Oregon used Emergency Rooms 40% MORE than those without insurance.
  • The costs to Doctors, hospitals and pharmacies increased.
  • But sadly and very telling, those with expanded coverage saw NO significant increase in healthcare outcomes!
  • These are facts, not talking points and certainly not rhetoric.

    Something must be done about the broken Medicaid system. Senator Silvey proposes to implement SOME of those necessary changes in exchange for Obamacare expansion. Bad plan for those on the current broken system, those who would be added to the current broken system and for taxpayers paying for the current broken system. Did I tell you the current system was broken?

    Instead, the Missouri General Assembly should take up and pass Senate Bill 847 sponsored by Senator Robb Schaaf and/or House Bill 1793 sponsored by Representative Keith Frederick.

    These bills will do far more to reform not only Medicaid but the whole healthcare system in Missouri making both more effective and reducing costs!

    #2014Medicaidexpansion