Advocates Speak Out Against Kurt Schaefer's Power Move to Privatize Medicaid

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, in the midst of all his grandstanding against Equality, women's reproductive rights, and common sense gun safety, managed to sneak something through the legislature back in 2015--privatization of the vast majority of Medicaid services. And shall we mention the hefty campaign checks Schaefer received from health care giants Centene and Aetna?

With the transition to nearly total privatization approaching, advocacy groups from around the state have been speaking out, and recently sent a letter to Governor Nixon. 

"We are concerned that moving to statewide managed care will hurt Missourians," said Jen Bersdale, executive director of Missouri Health Care for All, one of the signers of the letter. "The state has reported that managed care does not save money and leads to worse health outcomes."

And as Barb Shelly wrote this spring in The Pitch, Schaefer's motives may not have been exactly what you'd call patient-driven:

“We had no hearings. None,” says Sen. Rob Schaaf, a Republican from St. Joseph. Schaaf, a physician, is one of the few lawmakers who balked at the change. “The people on Medicaid didn’t get a chance to weigh in.”....

...It was Schaefer, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who insisted on directing the move to managed care in the budget bill last year. He framed it as a way to get control of Medicaid costs, though there is no substantial reason to think that will happen. 

Centene gave Schaefer $10,000 in donations after the 2015 session ended. Aetna chipped in with $1,000, and a WellCare subsidiary gave him $2,500. 

What really raised eyebrows in the Capitol was when a lobbyist named Yancy Williams recently showed up as a representative for the Missouri Association of Health Plans, a consortium of insurance companies. Williams was Schaefer’s chief of staff at the time the senator insisted on the managed-care expansion. He left Schaefer’s office in the fall of 2015 to become a lobbyist. So less than a year after helping private insurance companies gain about 200,000 new customers, Williams is on their payroll.

It’s your typical Missouri story. Not illegal, but hardly ethical.

....But wait, there's more: Here's Kurt Schaefer, circa 2008, speaking out against the very health care companies he's currently helping.....???!!!!

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