The Missouri Legislature has done it again. Lawmakers have passed a routine bill to help fund Missouri’s Medicaid program.

The federal reimbursement allowance, or FRA, taxes the state’s healthcare industry, which in turn provides about $4.5 billion in federal aid.

State House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, steered the bill through his chamber.

“This has become an integral part of our state’s budget, primarily funding a large piece of our Medicaid program,” said Smith.

Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said the bill has been used in recent years as a “political football.”

“And as I leave this body, Mr. Speaker, I hope and ask those of you who remain, that you look at this for exactly what it is – something that is essential to our state’s budget to be able to function as a government, provide the most basic services that we’re supposed to, and that this shouldn’t be used as a hostage in a terrorist negotiation,” said Quade.

Sixteen Republicans, including Rep. Tony Lovasco, R-O’Fallon, oppose the legislation.

“The FRA, as was stated by the gentleman from Jasper, is integral to our budget. It’s a huge important thing that we need in order to function,” said Lovasco. “And that is absolutely terrible. The fact that we are yet again leaning on the federal government and they’re manufactured, printed money in order to get by in Missouri is just not a positive.”

Since the proposal requires renewal every five years, Lovasco wants lawmakers to find ways to break the state’s reliance on the federal government.

“The reality is they don’t have the money,” said Lovasco. “This will keep us afloat for a few more years and I think that’s a good thing. I certainly don’t want to shut down our hospitals. But I just absolutely hate that we are in this position and will be for the foreseeable future. I don’t know what we can do to change that, but I want that discussion to start. I believe that the federal government has hamstrung the state for far too long.”

Senate Bill 748 goes to Gov. Mike Parson for a decision.

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