Your Opinion: Response on Medicaid plan

Dear Editor:

Rep. Jay Barnes has additional welfare reform ideas. The poor should buy fruit and vegetables at farmers markets. That sounds good to me.

Barnes quotes the Pope on the nobility of work and implies the Pope would support welfare reform which Barnes says is all about tying Medicaid eligibility to work. But I bet the Pope would more likely be in the corner of former Republican Sen. Bond and the Chamber of Commerce who are lobbying Barnes and other Republicans to allow full Medicaid expansion in Missouri.

Several studies show that increasing Missouri coverage would provide more than 20,000 decent medical jobs to provide Medicaid coverage. The untrained menial work Medicaid recipients are forced to seek is not that ennobling. Money for job training would be money better spent.

And who are the Medicaid recipients that Barnes wants to ennoble with the romance of low skill Walmart and McDonald’s work? Fairly recent data from Washington University economist Tim McBride gives the breakdown: 540,000 are children, 244,800 are seniors or disabled and 108,000 are parents or pregnant women. Who in this group is going to be able to work for their Medicaid?

The smaller numbers of parents and pregnant women who receive Medicaid have income limits. A single parent with three children can be eligible if they make less than $4,500. If that person made more, they would not be eligible.

Yes, this is the kind of disincentive that limits people from working more and the law should be changed. But in effect, that would be raising the Medicaid limit of income.

I have never had a discussion with a conservative who believed that poor people would rather work or even be seen as being productive. There are natural prejudices in our society to equate wealth with virtue and poverty with a lack of virtue. Therefore, conservatives want to tie work requirements to receiving benefits.

The Affordable Care Act is gaining public acceptance. Despite every Republican effort to kill or slander it a February Kaiser tracking poll indicates the majority of Americans do not want ACA repealed. They want it improved. Most Americans say they are not affected.

Missouri politicians like Sen. Kehoe say they mistrust the federal government to honor its commitment to paying for Medicaid expansion. That is a baseless claim and is meant to undermine confidence in your government. My concerns are more with poor Missouri governance.