Recent Missouri editorials

The Jefferson City News-Tribune, Jan. 18

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control shows the mortality rate of mothers has dramatically increased.

Missouri is much worse than the average — our state has one of the highest rates of death during and after pregnancies.

Our state ranks 44th in the nation, with a 2019 maternal mortality rate of 40.7 per 100,000. The national average is 29.6, according to an October 2019 report by the Center for Health Economics and Policy.

Statistics also show a disparity between whites and blacks, with black women nearly three times more likely to die during pregnancy or while giving birth.

The maternal mortality rate often is used to indicate the level of health care in general within an area.

What are the causes of the deaths?

The Center for Health Economics and Policy report said chronic health conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes and chronic heart disease, increase the risk of complications for pregnant women. Other factors for putting expecting mothers at a greater risk are older maternal age, multiparity (having given birth to five or more children), obesity and lack of health insurance coverage.

The increased usage of C-sections in the U.S. has also been linked to higher maternal mortality rates. Some also blame a lack of access to health care for driving up the rate.

The Missouri Hospital Association is working with agencies and state lawmakers to address the issue, WGEM-TV recently reported.

One thing Missouri has done recently is to join the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health. It calls itself a "national data-driven maternal safety and quality improvement initiative based on proven implementation approaches to improving maternal safety and outcomes in the U.S." The goal is to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and severe morbidity across the United States.

We hope Missouri lawmakers take note of this growing problem and look for solutions during the recently started legislative session.


Kansas City Star, Jan. 20

An outdated Missouri law limits civil claims arising from sexual abuse offenses committed against children to a 10-year window.

House Bill 1411 would finally lift the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits in child sexual abuse cases. The measure, which is sponsored by state Rep. Sheila Solon, a St. Joseph Republican, is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday.

In 2018, Missouri lawmakers removed the statute of limitations for criminal child sex abuse offenses. Just as a time limit for criminal charges was misguided, so, too, is imposing an expiration date limiting survivors’ ability to seek justice through civil lawsuits.

As more allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy have emerged across the country, revealing decades of cover-ups, many other states already have extended or eliminated both the criminal and civil statutes of limitations. Missouri lawmakers should follow suit and act expeditiously to eliminate the time limit for civil claims.

“To have a rigid deadline, by which victims must step forward, is both unjust and unwise,” said abuse advocate David Clohessy, the former national president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “It’s unjust to those deeply wounded men and women who want to safeguard other kids from the horror they endured.”

Many victims of child sex crimes do not report the abuse they suffered until years later — or even decades. The trauma mostly surfaces in adulthood, Clohessy said.

“Tragically, by the time all of this happens, it’s usually too late for victims to act because of Missouri’s archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations that essentially gives those who commit or conceal these heinous crimes strong incentives to intimidate victims, threaten whistleblowers, discredit witnesses, destroy evidence and even flee the state or country,” he said. “We desperately need to reverse this.”

While there’s no doubt that Missouri’s current statute of limitations should be lifted, some advocates for protecting children have called for tweaks to the legislation, raising questions about whether it could allow lawsuits against individuals but absolve institutions that protected predators from blame.

They’re right that both institutions and individuals must be held responsible in these cases.

Missouri lawmakers must ensure that victims have every option available to hold predators responsible for their crimes — without the possibility of time expiring.


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 16

In his State of the State speech Wednesday, Gov. Mike Parson maintained that Missouri cannot afford to expand Medicaid. That short-sighted argument echoes one the GOP here and elsewhere has been making for a decade — one presented as being about dollars and cents, but which has often appeared to be more about undermining the Affordable Care Act.

The upshot is that Missouri has long turned its back on its most vulnerable citizens by refusing federal health care dollars for the poor. Rather than continuing his party’s sad legacy on this topic, Parson should lead the drive to change it. An equal priority for him should be determining why tens of thousands of Missouri children have suddenly disappeared from the Medicaid rolls.

Medicaid is the national health insurance program for low-income families, administered by the states and funded jointly with the federal government. It provides basic care to families that would otherwise have to turn to emergency rooms — at a higher public cost. In that sense, Medicaid serves not only the poor but the taxpayers.

As part of its goal of health care coverage for all Americans, Obamacare called for expanding Medicaid to cover those who weren’t previously poor enough to qualify but were still too poor to afford private insurance. It was a logical idea, employing a government program already in place, but it failed to account for the cynicism of Obamacare’s opponents.

Republicans, unable to stop the federal implementation of the Affordable Care Act, set about strangling it at the state level. Since the states administer Medicaid, GOP-controlled states like Missouri were able to thwart part of Obamacare by refusing to expand their Medicaid programs — even though it meant turning down federal dollars that would have provided medical coverage for their own low-income citizens. When Parson says Missouri can’t afford to expand Medicaid, he is, in essence, continuing to turn down those federal dollars.

Missouri should not only expand Medicaid but should also get to the bottom of why, in the past 18 months, almost 100,000 children have dropped off the state’s Medicaid rolls. State leaders have claimed, dubiously, it’s the result of the improving economy, but the reduction in covered families is too dramatic for that explanation to work. Evidence indicates that, in reality, families that still qualify for Medicaid are being erroneously thrown off because of glitches in the state’s monitoring system.

An effort underway to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot in November could do what the Legislature has refused to, making Missouri a healthier state and saving money in the bargain. Parson has shown a willingness at times to buck some of his party’s worst instincts and support responsible ideas. This is one subject that cries out for that kind of leadership.