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Governor Delivers State of the State Address

The proposal for a new Medicaid program was the center piece of Governor Matt Blunt's State of the State Address. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports on the healthcare proposal and other aspects of the governor's address.

The proposal for a new Medicaid program was the center piece of Governor Matt Blunt's State of the State Address. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports on the healthcare proposal and other aspects of the governor's address.

The governor wasted little time in his speech describing the revamped Medicaid program, which he calls Missouri HealthNet.

To do that, Blunt says program participants should have access to a primary health care provider and preventative services designed to keep people healthy. Blunt's plan includes incentives for patients to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Under the plan, more state funds would be available to entice more doctors to participate in the program.

In his speech, the governor also announced plans to increase the number of Missourians who have health insurance.

Democrats criticized the governor's revamped Medicaid plan for failing to restore healthcare to those who lost it under the cuts he signed two years ago.

Attorney General Jay Nixon delivered the democratic response to the governor's address.

He called on Blunt to expand healthcare.

Nixon and other democrats contend the Medicaid cuts are actually costing more money because it's driving people into emergency rooms.

Nixon says that kind of care costs hospitals and taxpayers more money than the cost of keeping people on Medicaid.

The governor's new healthcare plan will cost 6 point 4 billion dollars and comprises the largest part of the budget.

Another budget item that drew a lot of attention Wednesday night was the governor's proposed 4 point 5 percent funding increase for higher education.

That's far short of the 12 point 5 percent increase recommended by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

Blunt also unveiled a proposal to limit the ability of colleges and universities to raise tuition.

Democrats criticize Blunt for under funding higher education, thereby forcing public universities to raise tuition to make up the difference.

In his response to the governor's speech, Attorney General Jay Nixon argued the governor hasn't done enough to make college affordable.

Overall, in his speech, Governor Matt Blunt characterized the state as strong and vibrant but in his response, Attorney General Jay Nixon focused on lagging job growth and wages.

Now that the governor has laid out his legislative priorities and unveiled his budget plan, it's up to lawmakers to decide the fate of the proposals.