An initial attempt to implement part of Governor Nixon’s plan to expand Medicaid without an increase in state funding is turned back in the House, after the main budget man in the House stated he hasn’t been informed about the deal made between the governor and the hospitals.
Perhaps Rep. J. C. Kuessner (D-Eminence) oversold the amendment a bit when he stated that it was "like Christmas", but he got the point across. House Democrats point out that by increasing a tax on hospitals and pooling other funds the state can draw down $90 million in additional federal Medicaid funding without spending additional state money.
Governor Nixon has spent two days traveling the state to sell the plan to the public. Nixon had proposed the state spend the additional $14 million from the general revenue fund. When legislators balked, he began negotiations with the Missouri Hospital Association, which has agreed to the plan.
Nobody, apparently, told House Budget Committee Chairman, Allen Icet (R-Wildwood). Icet greeted the amendment sponsored by Rep. Rachel Bringer (D-Palmyra) coolly.
Bringer proposed an amendment to Icet’s bill to extend the sunset of the health care provider tax ( HCS HB 740 ). The amendment called for the legislature to use additional monies derived from an increase in the hospital tax to maximize federal matching funds and extend health care coverage to families earning up to 50% of the federal poverty level.
Icet opposed the amendment during House floor debate, stating that he had not heard from the hospitals that they had agreed to a tax increase. He also stated that the amendment didn’t belong on the bill, because it merely sought to extend the sunset of the tax. With Icet’s stated opposition, majority Republicans rejected the amendment.
A spokesman for the Missouri Hospital Association told the Missourinet that the association couldn’t be more on board with the Nixon plan. He said the group will convey that message to Icet.
The issue is far from over. A spokesman for the governor’s office says the amendment in question isn’t needed. What is needed, according to the governor’s office, is an increase in Medicaid eligibility from 19% to 50%, which can be done when the legislature crafts the budget.