Missouri Senate committee votes down state health reorganization

Monday, March 22, 2010 | 9:30 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — The University of Missouri System won a victory Monday as a Senate committee voted down a plan to consolidate state workers' health plans that system officials had opposed.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Joan Bray, D-St. Louis County, would have created a commission to recommend creating a single state Division of Health Care to handle all the health plans.

The committee first weakened the bill, then killed it altogether after a tie vote on whether to pass the measure. A tie means the bill fails.

UM System officials opposed a similar bill earlier this month. At the time, system representatives said the system's premiums were lower than other state agencies, and they wanted to keep it that way. Officials said consolidating health plans would lead to increased UM System premiums as they rise to the average across all agencies.

Republicans argued a commission is unnecessary because lawmakers already know the various organizations, such as the UM System, don't want to consolidate their health plans. Supporters have said combining plans would lead to lower costs.

The committee's chairman, Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, joined three Democrats in support of the bill. The other four Republicans present voted against, with two Republicans not in attendance.

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