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Ballot initiative in MO that would restore Medicaid cuts approved for circulation

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan has approved the circulation of a ballot initiative that would reverse the Medicaid cuts made by Governor Matt Blunt nearly three years ago.

Primarily, the initiative would restore the level of service and eligibility criteria that were in effect on January 10, 2005.

It would also provide health care to Missourians earning minimum wage, to those whose incomes don't exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and to disabled Missourians employed in sheltered workshops.

Robin Acree, a community activist from Mexico, MO, is leading the petition drive.

"This would take Missouri HealthNet and make it a quality, affordable and comprehensive program for more Missourians," Acree said.

According to estimates provided by the State Auditor's office, the restored benefits would cost the state about $255 million a year.

Governor Blunt signed a bill earlier this year creating Missouri HealthNet, a program that will take the place of Medicaid on July 1st, 2008.

Missouri HealthNet will place a greater emphasis on preventive care and wellness, and will pay physicians based on performance.

"Roughly we're talking about over 150,000 who totally lost their access to health care, and others reaching even higher than that who lost critical benefits or services because of it," Acree said.

KWMU contacted Governor Blunt's office, but so far he has not issued a response.

A range of roughly 86,000 to 95,000 signatures are needed to get the initiative onto the November 2008 ballot.

The ballot initiative can be viewed at: