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Health Care Clash Continues In Jeff City as Belts Tighten

March 4, 2009

Jefferson City, MO - Health care rallies are being held across Missouri, pushing for what advocates call the urgent need to fix America's broken health care system. But in Jefferson City, state House Republicans recently blocked an attempt by Democratic lawmakers to use stimulus money to reduce health-care premiums and increase access for thousands of children, citing high costs in a rough economy.

A recent report finds that health insurance premiums in Missouri are growing four times faster than wages, making it impossible for businesses, state government and families to keep up. State Senator Sara Lampe (D-Springfield) says partisan bickering at the state and national level isn't doing anything to help those in need.

"People are dying, quite frankly, and we can take all the time in the world, but people's lives can't just go on hold until we decide that we're going to make a change in state statute or in the budget."

Senator Lampe says Missouri is struggling to keep up with costs in funding such programs as Medicaid and S-CHIP. She says that for the state to pass up on what the stimulus package is offering is a crime for people who could finally get the medical attention they need.

"There are people that want to work and, with just a little bit of help from us in terms of equipment or an aide in their home, would be able to do that."

Republicans in the legislature say they want competitive rather than government-run health care reform. But advocates say Missouri's budget crisis can't be fixed without addressing the problems of the health care system.

The report on the situation, by the national advocacy group Health Care for America Now, finds that in 2008 the average premium for family coverage in Missouri was $13,000. By 2016, it's estimated, that average will rise to more than $25,0000.

More information is available from www.missouriprovote.org

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MO