SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — State lawmakers continue to debate a Medicaid expansion in Missouri after a first draft was approved by the House Budget Committee today.
The Republican-backed bill requires some Medicaid recipients to meet certain work requirements to be able to qualify for Medicaid. People with disabilities are one of the exceptions.
Democrats say the requirement would only add to the confusion many recipients have when filing for benefits.
Both parties debated the legislation on the floor on May 11.
“We have never cut Medicaid since you and I have been here,” said Cody Smith (R), Carthage state representative. “I don’t know if that is necessarily likely. I do think that we could get into a scenario in which we have to make choices between Medicaid and our other priorities such as public education.”
On the other hand, state representative Peter Meredith from St. Louis and Traci Gleason, with the Missouri Budget Project, oppose this bill.
“They’re rushing through this proposal at a time when unemployment is skyrocketing,” said Gleason. “And the state is struggling with revenue. So to put a requirement on that would limit access to healthcare when we’re in the middle of a pandemic, is near irresponsible.”
There is also concern about an amendment to the bill that would give lawmakers the ability to alter benefits even if voters approve Medicaid expansion.
“Even if the voters of Missouri vote overwhelmingly to put in our constitution language setting the eligibility, we through our appropriations process could ignore that,” said Merideth. “Correct?”
Gleason specifically mentioned frontline workers. Nearly one in nine people don’t have health insurance coverage or can’t qualify for Medicaid due to restrictions in Missouri.
“Medicaid expansion would make sure that folks like our essential workers can access the healthcare that they need to keep themselves, their families, and the Missourians they’re serving safe,” said Gleason.
If the bill is approved by lawmakers, it will be up to the voters to decide if it should pass in November.