February 13, 2016

House Republicans meet with Governor, advance Medicaid reform plan (VIDEO)

The Governor has met with House Republicans to talk about what he wants in Medicaid reform, and the House Republican proposal is a step closer to reaching the floor.

In an unusual meeting with the House Republican Caucus, Governor Jay Nixon said there are several goals he wants in Medicaid reform. The key is he wants eligibility expanded to adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level so that Missouri can use the federal money offered to pay for expansion.

“The Secretary of Health and Human Services says whatever model, whatever reforms you have to get, the federal law as passed under the Affordable Care Act has to get an option for additional health care coverage at 138.”

The House Republican plan for reform is HB 700 sponsored by Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City).  Hours after the meeting between Nixon and the House majority party the bill was passed out of a committee with bipartisan support.  It must go through another committee before it can reach the floor for debate.

Nixon says that bill includes some of the reforms he has talked about and appears to be what lawmakers are focused on, but it would set eligibility at the poverty level. An amendment that would have raised it to the 138 level was rejected in Committee Wednesday night along party lines before the bill was voted out.

Barnes says he thinks the Obama Administration has the authority to approve his proposal at the 100 percent level by granting a waiver, though other states have been told such waivers would not be granted.

Barnes says passing his legislation would carry more weight.

“I don’t think the federal government has actually been put to the test. Their statement was a response to a letter from 11 governors in December. No state has put legislation on the table … putting pressure on the Obama administration that if they don’t cooperate, we’re not going to do it.”

Barnes’ proposal would authorize a fivefold increase in Missouri’s eligibility thresholds for adults to qualify. It also includes a clause that prevents it from taking effect if federal officials say it won’t qualify for enhanced federal funding.