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 The leading web portal for pharmacy resources, news, education and careers March 26, 2017
Pharmacy Choice - Pharmaceutical News - EDITORIAL: Reform Medicaid for good of all [St. Joseph News-Press, Mo.] - March 26, 2017

Pharmacy News Article

 3/19/17 - EDITORIAL: Reform Medicaid for good of all [St. Joseph News-Press, Mo.]

March 19Missouri has arrived at a budget crossroads.

The path to this point has been marked by missed revenue projections and potholes left by cuts affecting education, transportation and a host of other needs.

Down the road ahead is a looming crisis in soaring spending on Medicaid a rate of increase Lt. Gov. Mike Parson correctly describes as "unsustainable."

Given the options, which way do we turn?

The answer lies in choosing a third road less traveled. Missourians of all political parties are challenged to tone down the hyperbole, focus on the facts and work to devise a solution before this budget crisis leads to a catastrophic crash in the state's finances.

Parson recently noted he believes strongly in providing adequate funding for all of the state's important needs, including education, public safety and infrastructure. He complains, however, that effort is harmed by excessive growth in Medicaid spending.

Before someone writes off Parson as simply uncaring, it's best to hear him out:

"In 2007, the state's Medicaid system was 28.2 percent of the budget, $5.6 billion. For 2017, Medicaid's share of the budget is $10.3 billion 37.7 percent of the budget ...

"Having a safety net for the less fortunate is important, but Missouri's entitlement programs have gone far beyond this purpose. This excess does significant harm and hampers funding for other items such as transportation and workforce training that can promote economic opportunity and ultimately give more families a path out of poverty."

What Parson and others would like to see is for the federal government to work with Missouri to give the state more control over MO HealthNet the state's Medicaid program. One proposal would allow Missouri to draw on a version of federal block-grant funding, rather than continue under the traditional system in which states must match money provided by the federal government.

Getting an assured amount of federal funding is critical to this equation, as is retaining funding currently provided by hospitals and other providers. This can be complicated, but if it is accomplished, then Missouri would be freed to determine with more accuracy what it can afford to spend on Medicaid and how best to serve those most in need.

As it is, Medicaid's share of the state budget is rising by an average of 1 percent a year and about $500 million a year. Coincidentally, $500 million is the projected general budget shortfall for next year that lawmakers are working to close.

There is no doubt unrestrained growth in Medicaid spending it now provides services to an estimated 1 in 6 Missourians is reducing money available for other important priorities. Continuing down this path is not an option.

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(c)2017 the St. Joseph News-Press (St. Joseph, Mo.)

Visit the St. Joseph News-Press (St. Joseph, Mo.) at www.newspressnow.com/index.html

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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