State House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, says about 120,000 Missourians, including roughly 95,000 children, have been removed from Medicaid since January 2018. She has sent a letter to House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, calling on him to start a legislative investigation to find out why.
Haahr says Representative David Wood, R-Versailles, is reviewing the figures and is confident Wood will ensure the law is being followed. Haahr says he asked Wood more than one month ago to begin analyzing the numbers.
Wood, who chairs a budget committee involving Social Services, says he’s been following the issue for months because some of his colleagues approached him about the trend. He thinks the dip in numbers is largely tied to the Affordable Care Act previously penalizing parents who did not put their kids on Medicaid.
“If you had children and they qualified for Medicaid, when you went to the health exchange online, you were required to put your children on Medicaid and not on your health insurance policy,” he says. “So, we saw an increase of about 120,000 individuals on Medicaid through that time frame from 2014-2016. About 83% to 85% of those were children.”
In 2017, President Donald Trump repealed the requirement. Wood says starting this year, the penalty went away.
“So, those individuals who’ve re-certified over the last year and no longer are going to be penalized, they have the ability to put those children back onto their own policies or not cover them under Medicaid,” he says.
Wood also thinks the decline is partly due to higher employment, a reduction in the number of Medicaid applications submitted, and a new streamlined re-enrollment program is catching those who do not qualify. According to Wood, the total number in the reduction of applications is in the works.
“There is no child being denied Medicaid who is qualifying for Medicaid,” he says. “If that did happen, if there was a computer glitch, if there was a program issue, if they called, their coverage goes back and is fully enforced. It goes back to the date that it would have been cancelled, so there would be no bill presented to those individuals. If it’s a new application, once that application is filed, we not only cover to that date, we cover three months prior once they are accepted in.”
Wood, who is also the vice chairman of the House Budget committee, says almost every family in his district qualifies for their children to be on Medicaid.
“With this problem, or supposed problem, I have not had a single constituent call me to say ‘My children have been taken off of Medicaid and they’re wrong.’ I’ve talked to a few other representatives and they have not received constituent phone calls either. If this were as big of a case as what it would appear to be, by just looking at 120,000 kids coming off of Medicaid, we would have had phone calls all over the place. There would have been an uproar,” Wood says.
Is this issue being blown out of proportion?
“I don’t know that it’s being blown out of proportion because everybody should have a concern when those numbers drop,” he says. “But I think the explanations make sense. The numbers balance. I think it’s something we need to be aware of and be cautionary on, but I do not believe it rises to the ‘Republicans are taking kids off of Medicaid kind of thing.’ I think we are more in a philosophical argument than an argument of concern.”
Wood says he plans to meet soon with state Medicaid and Family Services officials, along with Quade, and Democratic Representatives Kip Kendrick of Columbia and Sarah Unsicker of Shrewsbury, to come to an understanding about what the numbers mean.
To hear the full interview with Rep. David Wood, click below.
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