KANSAS CITY — Republicans’ Proposed cuts to the state’s Medicaid program are “penny-wise and pound-foolish,” Gov. Bob Holden told a crowded room of supporters Wednesday.
Billed by the Democratic governor as a hearing on the proposed cuts, the event drew health care providers, parents and community activists, who all testified against the legislation.
A bill passed by the House last week would make the requisite changes in state law to accommodate some of the Medicaid funding cuts proposed in the annual state budget that takes effect July 1. Only Republicans voted for the bill; all Democrats present voted against it.
Under the legislation, several thousand adults and children could lose health care coverage.
The budget itself remains in a House committee. It would shave about $110 million in state and federal money from the $4.2 billion Medicaid program, which covers about 950,000 poor, elderly and disabled Missourians.
Several of the panelists at Wednesday’s hearing said that if the working poor lost the health care coverage they had under previous budgets, they would put off minor ailments until they became serious and more expensive to treat. They would also be more likely to seek primary care at emergency rooms, which would, panelists said, pass added costs on to the taxpayer.
No one at the event, the second of four hearings Holden planned to hold around the state, spoke in favor of the cuts. The likely Republican nominee for governor, Secretary of State Matt Blunt, has not taken a position on Medicaid, a spokesman said. But speaking separately in Kansas City on Wednesday, Blunt defended Republicans’ spending proposals generally.
“It’s wrong to constantly demand more tax dollars from Missourians,” Blunt said.