Missouri lawmakers may return to The Capitol for a special session

Ozarks Politics

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers could return to The Capitol to renew an important tax to fund the state’s Medicaid program.

Governor Mike Parson said he is planning to make budget cuts if there is no solution by July 1.

“We’re going to have to move forward because I can’t delay it any longer,” said Gov. Parson.

The Federal Reimbursement Allowance Program (FRA) is a tax collected from medical providers, like hospitals, to support Medicaid.

House budget Chairman Cody Smith said the tax brings in $1.6 billion for Medicaid.

“For about every FRA dollar we get, we get about two federal dollars for that, and then we take all that money, and we put it towards our Medicaid program,” said Smith.

The bill must be renewed before the end of September, but Gov. Parson said he wouldn’t wait that long.

“On July 1, there will be withholds. There is no other option for us,” said Gov. Parson.

Since lawmakers didn’t get the job done before they adjourned, they have to come back for a special session.

“I’m optimistic that we will be able to come to some compromises on a plan that enables us to go in, legislate this fairly quickly, and get it to the governor’s desk by the end of the month,” said Smith.

The problem in finding a compromise: What should be covered under Medicaid?

“You are literally putting $4 billion influx that is used to provide healthcare for Missourians over contraception, over birth control,” said John Rizzo (D), Senate minority floor leader.

For more than 20 years, the state’s Medicaid program has been funded by the FRA. It will leave more than a $1 billion hole in the budget if it’s not renewed.

“I think that there is still a lot of fence-mending that needs to happen that hasn’t happened yet,” said Rizzo. “I also think that we are adults, and we understand that this is something that could be catastrophic to the state of Missouri if we don’t get it done.”

Senator Rizzo said he believes the Senate will be back in Jefferson City on Monday, June 21, to start working on the FRA. However, the governor’s office has not yet confirmed when or if the Senate will work on the tax.

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