Letter to the Editor

Use session to restore MAWD

Friday, September 1, 2006

To the editor:

When the Missouri General Assembly convenes for its veto session Sept. 13, lawmakers will spend a few hours saying goodbye to departing colleagues whose terms are ending, and then we will go home.

The Missouri Constitution requires the legislature to meet each September to reconsider bills vetoed by the governor. This year, Gov. Matt Blunt didn't veto a single bill, although he used his line-item veto to trim a few spending items from the budget that lawmakers are unlikely to make a fuss over.

Since we must be in Jefferson City anyway, we could use the opportunity to reinstate the Medical Assistance for the Working Disabled program. Its elimination in 2005 forced many disabled workers to choose between having a job and having health care. Those who supported eliminating MAWD, including the governor, realize it was a mistake.

Although the legislature would easily pass the MAWD bill if a special session were called for that purpose, Governor Blunt refuses to do so unless House Republican leaders commit to passing a tough law to crack down on Medicaid provider fraud, something they have balked at doing.

House Democrats stand prepared to support both bills, but linking these unrelated issues is what killed MAWD in the waning days of the regular session. Both matters deserve special-session consideration, but resistance to one shouldn't preclude action on the other. Disabled Missourians want to return to work and are relying on us to clear the way. Instead of spending the day saying farewells, lawmakers should take meaningful steps to help Missourians.

State Rep. PAUL LeVOTA, Assistant Minority Leader, District 52, Independence, Mo.