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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A steady stream of speakers at a Columbia Medicaid reform hearing urged a panel of citizens and Missouri lawmakers Saturday to not only reform but also expand the government-funded health care program.

The dozens of speakers included doctors, disability advocates, hospital executives and citizens who would become eligible for Medicaid under expansion envisioned by the federal Affordable Care Act.

The House Interim Committee on Citizens and Legislators Working Group on Medicaid Eligibility and Reform is one of three special committees created by state lawmakers after the Republican-led Legislature repeatedly rejected Medicaid expansion proposals in the 2013 session.

Committee chairman Noel Torpey of Independence and several other legislators on the 52-person panel emphasized that repairing what he called a "broken" Medicaid system is equally if not more important than broadening access.

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