ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The Senate Republican health care bill contains massive cuts to medicaid, even more than the house version of the bill. GOP leaders have put the debate on hold.

A new study by Georgetown University shows it will have a major impact on seniors in small towns and rural areas. Research professor Joan Alker says Missouri ranked #1 for states where Medicaid disproportionately impacts seniors.

“Medicare is primarily where seniors are getting health coverage, but Medicaid plays an important role in providing long-term care to seniors, so if somebody has to go to a nursing home, that’s extremely expensive, about $82,000 a year in actual cost of that, so few seniors can afford that, and that’s when they end up turning to Medicaid,” she says.

Alker says if the Medicaid cuts as proposed are enacted, Missouri would have no choice but to slash services, raise taxes or both. She says medical care in rural areas relies heavily on Medicaid and it’s not clear how they’d survive those cuts.

What do local doctors think about the now delayed Senate GOP healthcare plan?

The past president of the St. Louis Metropolitan Medical Society, Dr. Samer Cababe, says fixing America’s healthcare system really boils down to two big questions:

“Number one: Do we want the government running insurance, because I think that’s probably the biggest thing we need to get over, because if we’re going to have government-run insurance, then it’s inevitable that we’re going to have socialized healthcare,” he says.

And second, “If government’s not going to run insurance, and we’ve seen, you can can ask me if I’m biased, we’ve all worked in VAs and know what government insurance is like in other countries and I think most people probably do not want that this time. So now what can we do to convert government-run insurance to private or state and I think that’s what this is an attempt at,” he says.

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