JEFFERSON CITY — Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, issued the following statement regarding the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 608:
“I am disappointed with the veto of SB 608. While the federal health care law is driving up costs and causing general chaos in health care, the Missouri Legislature is pushing the opposite approach. We know that transparency and personal responsibility in health care is needed to bring down costs, increase quality of care, and cut down on overutilization and waste in the Medicaid system.
Right now, most patients don’t know what they are actually paying for when they go to the hospital and don’t find out until they get their bill. Health care transparency language in SB 608 would help patients make better decisions about the care they need and where they want to receive that care. Knowing the true cost of health care encourages competition and then the market will help drive down costs.
We also know it costs more to treat patients in the ER and that Medicaid patients use the ER more than other patients — since they can’t be turned away and aren’t paying the bill. This is putting a tremendous strain on our ERs, and, frankly, on our state budget. Allowing ERs to charge a small, $8 co-pay, which is less than most insured patients pay for an ER visit, to Medicaid patients inappropriately using the ER in a non-emergency situation is not onerous or a burden — it’s responsible. A co-pay would push Medicaid patients away from the ER and to primary care doctors where they can be treated comprehensively and at a lower cost to the state.
Typically, Medicaid recipients fail to show up for their doctor’s appointments at a much higher rate, forcing doctors to double and even triple-book appointments. This means longer waits at the doctor’s office and lost time and money for small businesses. Most private insurance plans require patients to cancel an appointment at least 24 hours in advance or they will be charged a missed appointment fee. Why don’t the same rules apply to the Medicaid population? There would be no fee for the first no-show and the fee could be waived if there is inclement weather. High no-show rates prove the current policy is not working. With skin in the game, no-shows would decrease, the state would save money and patients would receive more comprehensive care.
We need realistic solutions to the health care problems of our state. Medicaid may be free to recipients, but the taxpayers are footing the bill and the bill is out of control. Maintaining the status quo or scoring political points is not going to fix the problem. Transparency and accountability is part of the solution and that is what SB 608 promotes. I will be pushing for an override of the governor’s veto in September and will be working with colleagues over the next few months to determine how we can get that done.”
Senate Bill 608 passed the Senate (24-8) with a veto-proof majority. The General Assembly will have the opportunity to override the governor’s veto at the annual veto session on Sept. 14.