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Our Opinion: Too many Medicaid committees?

Our Opinion: Too many Medicaid committees?

June 23rd, 2013 in News

The proliferation of panels to study Medicaid may end up proving the axiom: "Too much of a good thing."

Creation of two new House panels was announced Thursday by Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka. They join a previously announced Senate committee and a proposed joint committee included in a bill awaiting action by Gov. Jay Nixon.

Missouri's approach to Medicaid, admittedly, is a complex topic.

Legislation to expand Medicaid rolls in Missouri failed during the recent legislative session.

Nixon, and many other Democrats, supported Medicaid expansion. They said adding an estimated 300,000 people would be financed largely by the federal government through provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

GOP opponents were reluctant to hitch Missouri's program to the federal wagon. They feared the federal government would fail to follow through on long-range funding, and argued the state's flawed Medicaid program must be fixed before it is enlarged.

On Friday in this forum, we commended creation of a Senate committee to study capital improvements. We asserted interim panels - with members representing a range of perspectives - have additional time to explore the many facets of a specific issue.

But when do too many committees spoil the study?

We soon may learn if at least three, and potentially four, committees is overkill.

The panels include:

• The House Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation, to be chaired by state Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City. Barnes sponsored a Medicaid proposal during the session that offered an alternative to the governor's approach.

• The Citizens and Legislators Working Group on Medicaid Eligibility and Reform, to be led by state Rep. Noel Torpey, R-Independence. This panel will join citizens with lawmakers to gather testimony and conduct research.

• A Senate interim committee to study potential Medicaid changes.

• A joint House and Senate panel included in a bill awaiting action by the governor.

We hope we're wrong, but we fear four Medicaid study groups will create more confusion than clarity.