April 17, 2014

House Republican files medicaid expansion, reform proposal

A Republican plan for expansion and reform of Medicaid has been filed.

Representatives Jay Barnes (left) and Noel Torpey (right) were announced as the chairs of 2 House Interim Committees on Medicaid last summer by House Speaker Tim Jones (center).  (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications.

Representatives Jay Barnes (left) and Noel Torpey (right) were announced as the chairs of 2 House Interim Committees on Medicaid last summer by House Speaker Tim Jones (center). (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications.

Representative Noel Torpey (R-Independence) has filed the bill after chairing one of two House interim committees on Medicaid last summer. Torpey’s proposal takes a different approach from past legislation in that it would require Medicaid recipients old enough to work to have jobs.

It would extend Medicaid coverage to adults with incomes below the federal poverty level and, Torpey says, it would help people making between the poverty level and 138 percent of the poverty level buy private insurance on the federal exchange.

“Why not help people who are trying to help themselves?” Torpey asks. “From a state’s perspective it’s fiscally responsible.”

Torpey says another key component of the bill is transparency for hospitals.

“We should know what non-life-threatening procedures cost … time after time after time, they don’t want to share that information and that’s unfortunate,” says Torpey. “I think that in itself will help some of the costs in healthcare.”

The lead co-sponsor on the bill is Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City), who chaired the other of those interim committees and has filed Medicaid reform legislation in the past.

He says another chief difference between those bills and this one is the requirement of at least one-percent of a recipient’s annual income to be paid in a premium for a coverage plan.

“We need recipients to take the responsibility to pay some of their own money for their health insurance,” says Barnes. “Because they make lower incomes that’s going to be a lower amount of money, but I think it’s important that they pay what they can into the system in order to get their own health insurance.”

Legislative staff are still preparing an estimate of the impact Torpey’s bill will have on state revenue, and he believes it will save the state money.
“I’m eager to see how positive it is,” Torpey tells Missourinet.

Torpey’s legislation is HB 1901.