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Access to CBD oil passes but why not Medicaid expansion?

Access to CBD oil passes but why not Medicaid expansion?

Personal stories prompt action on one, not the other

May 5th, 2014 in News

As supporters during the last month urged Missouri lawmakers to pass the CBD oil bill that finally was approved last week, some of the personal stories brought tears to many eyes.

Those stories included that of a child near death because of her continuing epileptic attacks, and of another child suffering hundreds of seizures every day.

And, the stories continued, when families in Colorado discovered relief for several children after they took an oral dose of oil extracted from a specially grown hemp plant, they felt it was imperative that Missouri join Colorado and other states in allowing families access to that powerful oil as a last chance to help heal, or at least treat, children suffering from a difficult illness.

And lawmakers did something very rare - passing the bill in the first year it had been introduced in the General Assembly, within five weeks of its introduction.

Over the course of the last couple of years, Missouri lawmakers also have heard some difficult stories in testimony from people wanting the Legislature to expand eligibility for Medicaid, as proposed in the federal health care law.

But lawmakers not only aren't fast-tracking Medicaid expansion, the Legislature's Republican majority has argued that expansion is the wrong thing to do.

Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, was involved in the push to pass the CBD bill because it might help his son.

"I think, when you've got a 32-0 vote and that kind of broad support, that's why the bill moved as quickly as it did," Schmitt said last week. "Other issues, which may, or may not, have their own merits, I'll leave that to work its own path.

"But on this one, we worked really hard to build that coalition."

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said the CBD oil bill and Medicaid expansion are two very different issues.

"It's a health care issue, yes - but I think that's where the similarities end," he said. "The CBD oil bill didn't involve any state or federal funding."

"It's just a much larger issue - and it's, basically, what we had was making a product legal to use for those who were seeking that therapy."