A health care measure moves forward in the House, barely, and heads for a conference with the Senate as time runs out this legislative session.
The House narrowly approved HCS SS SCS SB 306 , with only one vote to spare. This bill rose higher on the priority list when House members balked at expanding Medicaid. House leadership agreed to consider SB 306 in exchange for the Senate dropping an expansion of Medicaid from the social services budget. That agreement allowed the budget to be approved last week.
Rep. Doug Ervin (R-Kearney) sponsors the bill in the House. He told colleagues during House floor debate that the state needs to expand the Show Me Health Care Initiative.
"There’s some who advocate that we should just do a straight Medicaid expansion. I’m not in that camp," Ervin said. "There are others who advocate that we should take a free-market approach and cover those healthy adults, able-bodied adults. I’m still not buying that."
Ervin said that SB 306 provides a framework for health care for those earning up to 225% of the federal poverty level. To receive benefits from the Show Me Health Care Initiative, a person must qualify for the high-risk insurance pool by being without insurance for six months. Ervin said that while the proposal to expand Medicaid would have covered 35,000 Missourians, the provisions in this bill would provide a way for 21,000 poor Missourians to receive health care coverage while providing health insurance access to approximately 100,000 Missourians who cannot get health insurance due to pre-existing conditions.
The formula for who would receive coverage and how the state would pay for the program is rather complicated; prompting Rep. Mary Still (D-Columbia) to says Medicaid expansion would have been a simpler route.
"This plan does very little to help hard-working, but low paid folks afford insurance," Still stated during House floor debate.
Differences between the House and Senate approach to health care must be worked out in the next three days to pass this legislative session.