The Missouri House Budget Committee is expected to hold its first meeting of 2021 this week in Jefferson City.
House Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, has released a revised House schedule. A technical session has been added on Friday, which will allow the Budget Committee to meet that day.
Governor Mike Parson (R) will deliver his State of the State Address on Wednesday afternoon at 3 in Jefferson City, before a joint session of the Legislature. The governor will outline his 2021 legislative priorities at that time, and will also unveil his proposed budget blueprint.
The implementation of Medicaid expansion is expected to be a key issue this session.
“We will wait until after the state of the state (speech) to discuss new budget items like medex (Medicaid expansion). We need to see what the department (state Department of Social Services) proposes and spend a little time unpacking it,” House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, tells Missourinet.
Medicaid is formally called MO HealthNet. It’s a federal and state program that assists with medical costs for residents with limited incomes.
About 53 percent of Missouri voters approved Medicaid expansion in August. Amendment Two expands Medicaid for residents between the ages of 19 and 64 with an income level at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Medicaid expansion supporters say the measure will provide healthcare to Missourians who earn less than $18,000 annually.
Medicaid expansion implementation is a top 2021 priority for House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, and other House Democrats. She notes Medicaid expansion will extend health care coverage to more than 200,000 Missourians.
“As we head into our second year of the (COVID) pandemic, we must take the lessons learned so far about what works and what doesn’t and translate it into action,” Leader Quade said on January 6, opening day for the Legislature. “We must work together to ensure Missourians can get vaccinated as quickly as possible. And the need to expand health care access as commanded by voters has never been more critical.”
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and many labor unions endorsed Amendment Two. The Chamber frequently quoted a study from the Missouri Foundation for Health, which says Medicaid expansion will create more than 16,000 new jobs annually during its first five years. The Chamber says many of those jobs will be in rural Missouri.
However, Medicaid expansion failed in 105 of the state’s 114 counties. All 105 counties that voted against it are in rural Missouri, which is a GOP stronghold.
House Budget Committee Chairman Smith warned before the August election that Amendment Two was projected to cost $200 million in state general revenue, and $1.8 billion in federal funding each year.
While GOP Governor Parson campaigned against Medicaid expansion, he has told Capitol reporters several times that Medicaid expansion will be implemented because that was the will of the voters.
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