July 28, 2014

Work begins on draft report from House interim Medicaid committee

A House Medicaid Committee will meet again once a draft of its report for the legislature is ready.

Representative Gail McCann-Beatty (foreground) and Chairman Jay Barnes listen to testimony in a hearing of the House Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation.  (Missouri House Communications)

Representative Gail McCann-Beatty (foreground) and Chairman Jay Barnes listen to testimony in a hearing of the House Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation. (Missouri House Communications)

Unlike most committees, Chairman Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) says the report the House Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation will issue won’t have recommendations. Rather, it will be more of a summary of testimony heard during the committee’s hearings since September.

He says there isn’t enough consensus for recommendations.

“I don’t think there’s a single topic I could come up with a recommendation on that we would have entire agreement,” Barnes tells Missourinet.  “Once you make a recommendation that’s the firm, solid way forward, and I think there are still some issues to be worked out.”

Instead he wants to create a report that summarizes the work of the committee and the testimony it heard that will prepare lawmakers to make a decision if legislation reaches a vote in the House.

No recommendations means the report won’t recommend that the state expand Medicaid eligibility as supported by Democrats including Governor Jay Nixon. The ranking Democrat on the committee, House Assistant Minority Leader Gail McCann-Beatty (Kansas City), says she would prefer to see that recommendation made but she understands Barnes’ position.

“There is still a lot of conversation going on and I don’t know that there was really a consensus, and so I can appreciate that the report is simply going to give a summary of what happened.”

McCann-Beatty says Democrats on the committee will keep their options open, however. She says one she sees a draft her caucus could seek to add things to it, or to draft its own report as the Democrats on the Senate Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation and Reform are doing.

In a hearing Tuesday Barnes reiterated that he is comfortable if he is the only person advocating reducing Medicaid eligibility for some low- and middle-income children to save some of the projected cost of expanding eligibility elsewhere. His concept would be to lower eligibility from 300 percent of the federal poverty level to half that level for families who can get a subsidized insurance policy from the federal exchange that would cover those children.

McCann-Beatty says she needs to see more about how that would shake out.

“The conversations I’ve had with other members of my caucus is we really want to see what impact if some of those families are shifted to the exchange, can they, in fact, save money?” she says. “I think until we get those numbers we can’t really say whether that’s something that we can support.”

Barnes tells the committee that even if that eligibility isn’t lowered in statute, he still projects some savings in that program as families currently using it switch to exchange plans. He says if a quarter of those families switch it would save the state $3,325,000.

Barnes says he doesn’t know when the draft report will be ready.