Medicaid Reform Debated

Debate over Medicaid reform surfaced this week in both the Missouri House and Senate. A Missouri House committee this week heard testimony from many supporters of Medicaid reform. But on the Senate floor several senators discounted prospects for passing a Medicaid bill. “It’s not happening,” declared Senator John Lamping (R-Clayton).

Heidi Miller, an internal medicine and family care physician in St. Louis, cited numerous examples of how uninsured patients of hers could have benefited from Medicaid health coverage. Jamie Kanan, a home health aid who makes $485 every two weeks, said her job does not provide health coverage and she does not qualify for Medicaid.

Much of the discussion in the House committee focused on the “Medicaid gap.” Missouri has one of the lowest eligibility levels for Medicaid in the country, only allowing coverage for household incomes less than 19% of the federal poverty level. In Missouri a mother with two children and an income of just over $3,612 a year does not qualify for Medicaid; yet in many cases this mother will also not qualify for premium subsidies through the insurance exchanges set up through the ACA.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce testified in support of Medicaid reform and expansion. The Chamber said expanding Medicaid would bring $2.2 billion dollars in to Missouri, boosting economic development and providing a shot in the arm to many struggling rural hospitals. The MCC also testified for both Medicaid reform and expansion.

The House committee took no action on the Medicaid bills it considered. Meanwhile, a Medicaid bill languishes on the Senate debate calendar. Stay tuned for more.

 

Posted: March 28, 2014

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