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Politics

New Healthcare Program Gains Legislative Approval

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/newhealthc_2308.mp3

After lengthy and sometimes emotional debate, lawmakers approved the creation of MO Healthnet, the program that will replace the existing Medicaid healthcare program for the poor. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

The bill is designed to increase reimbursements for doctors who take Medicaid patients. Supporters say it also encourages doctors to provide preventative care and encourages recipients to take responsibility for their well-being. While the bill had some democratic support in the senate, it was a near-party line vote in the House. There, Democrats complained that the proposal didn't go far enough in restoring healthcare coverage to those who lost it two years ago. Democratic Representative Beth Lowe.

That's the House handler of the bill Republican Representative Rob Schaaf. He's also a family physician. He says MO Healthnet provides coverage to some groups of people who didn't have it previously.

The debate got contentious when Schaaf debated Democratic Representative Holsman, who said the bill doesn't provide adequate coverage.

The Medicaid bill had been a top priority of both parties...lawmakers had aimed to finish the bill by the end of this session since current law stipulates the existing Medicaid program will end July first, 2008.