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House committee passes Medicaid bill

A Missouri House committee Wednesday passed legislation designed to serve as an alternative to Medicaid expansion outlined in the federal Affordable Care Act.

HB 700, sponsored by Rep. Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) seeks to reform certain parts of the current Medicaid system in Missouri. The reform elements of the bill include a shift to private managed care systems, an added push toward preventive care and financial incentives for recipients to keep their health care costs low.

The bill would cover Missourians who make up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level. The federal government stipulates that state Medicaid programs should cover recipients up to 138 percent of the poverty level. Barnes wants the state to seek a waiver from the federal government. It’s Barnes’ contention that Missouri cannot afford to ascend to the 138 percent level, and that the government’s rule has not been challenged properly.

“I don’t think the federal government has been put to the test,” Barnes told reporters Wednesday.  “I believe there is the legal authority to do this.”

Earlier in the day Wednesday, Governor Nixon met with Republican members of the House of Representatives in a rare caucus gathering. Afterwards, Nixon told reporters he is open to Medicaid reform, as long as the final program achieves the 138 percent of poverty threshold.

“How we get to 138 percent can be a little bit of an art, but you’ve got to get there,” said Nixon.

In the wake of the meeting with House members, the governor’s office distributed a press statement that outlined Nixon’s ideas for reform: financial incentives and penalties to promote personal responsibility and accountability among beneficiaries; safeguards to protect taxpayers, such as sunsets and triggers; using Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance, an option being explored in Arkansas; improving care coordination; and co-pays and cost-sharing arrangements to give Missourians a greater stake in their coverage as they move up the income ladder.

“Medicaid reform the Missouri way will protect taxpayers, reward work, promote personal responsibility and bring the tax dollars Missourians send to Washington back to work here in Missouri,” said Nixon.

Associated Industries of Missouri continues to watch the process carefully and offer input. AIM supports any plan that includes transformation for Missouri’s current Medicaid system.

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