Missouri’s House Speaker has been appointed as the new state Medicaid director, effective November 1.

Missouri DSS Director Steve Corsi (at podium) announces that Speaker Todd Richardson will be the state’s new Medicaid director on October 22, 2018 (Brian Hauswirth photo)

Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) Director Steve Corsi has appointed House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, to the post.

Governor Mike Parson (R) tells the Capitol Press Corps the appointment highlights his priority of bringing stability to state government.

“It has been 22 months since we had a permanent Missouri HealthNet director,” Parson says. “This (DSS) division has oversight over $10 billion of the state budget.”

Richardson notes the Medicaid budget is now about 35 percent of Missouri’s $28 billion operating budget.

“The growth in spending is affecting nearly every other area of our state’s budget. At the same time, our health outcomes with Missouri HealthNet are not where they need to be,” says Richardson.

Richardson and Governor Parson tell Missourinet they are focused on reforming Medicaid, not expanding the program.

State Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, favors placing the Medicaid expansion issue on a statewide ballot.

Richardson says his mission is to have a sustainable program that produces better health outcomes at an affordable price for Missouri taxpayers.

He says he’ll travel across the state for most of his first 60 days, with a goal of developing a “comprehensive road map” for MO HealthNet’s future.

“My focus is not going to be on expanding the Medicaid eligibility,” Richardson says. “It’s going to be how do we work with its existing population to improve health outcomes, and how do we put it on a path to financial stability.”

DSS says about one million Missourians are currently on Medicaid. Corsi says one of the challenges Richardson will face is recent hospital closures in rural Missouri.

Director Corsi also says Richardson will examine rising Medicaid costs, which Corsi says are driving overall health care costs.

Richardson tells Capitol reporters he will resign his seat in the Legislature on November 1. The post does not require Senate confirmation. Richardson’s salary will be $225,000, according to Corsi and the governor’s office.

Richardson was first elected to the Missouri House in November 2010, and is in his fourth and final term. He was prohibited from seeking re-election to the House, under term limits.


Click here to listen to the full news conference with DSS Director Steve Corsi, Governor Mike Parson and House Speaker Todd Richardson, which took place in the governor’s office in Jefferson City on October 22, 2018:

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