Mid-Missouri residents can weigh in on Medicaid reform this weekend

Jul 26, 2013

The House interim committee on Medicaid reform is holding a hearing in Columbia on Saturday. The hearing will be the third in a series of six throughout the state where the public is encouraged to give personal testimony about the state’s Medicaid program.

Republican Rep. Noel Torpey of Independence is the committee chair. He says every testimony the group has received so far has been in favor of Medicaid expansion.

“Most say there should be some type of reform, but everyone has been in favor of expansion. Keep in mind we’ve only done two meetings, there’s four to go,” Torpey said.

Torpey says attendance at the first hearing in Independence was low, but the second meeting, held in Springfield, attracted more people. He hopes to see a full house in Columbia on Saturday. 

“The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned,” Torpey said. “Even if people don’t feel comfortable testifying, hopefully people will come and listen, and listen to what committee members have to say, but more importantly what the people of Missouri have to say when they testify.” 

In this year’s session, state Republicans rejected all attempts to expand the Medicaid eligibility in the state to the level called for by the Affordable Care Act. The health reform law calls for every state to increase its Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $30,000 for a family of four. 

Each state sets up its own Medicaid eligibility requirements. As it stands right now, Missouri’s Medicaid, also called MO HealthNet, does not cover any able-bodied adult with no children, no matter how low their income. The program is more generous to children: Families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $58,000 for a family of four, can enroll their children in MO HealthNet. 

Torpey’s committee will submit a report based on the public testimony to a second House committee on Medicaid reform. That group will draft legislation for the next legislative session.

The committee will begin taking testimony at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the Columbia Public School administration building on 1818 W. Worley St.