Republicans block $27 million in grant for health care exchange

Jan 26, 2012

The use of twenty seven million dollars in federal funds to help create a health insurance exchange in Missouri has come to a complete halt. 

By Elana Gordon, KCUR.

Under the federal health law, exchanges are supposed to be online marketplaces where people can comparison shop for health plans.  Last summer, HHS awarded Missouri a $27 million grant to develop the IT infrastructure for an exchange and update the state’s old Medicaid computer systems.  The grant went to a quasi-government board, the Missouri Health Insurance Pool, or M-HIP.  Several Republican lawmakers opposed this--they don't like that M-Hip isn't subject to legislative oversight.  But during an MHIP board meeting yesterday, Vice President Cheryl Dillard confirmed by conference call that MHIP will no longer be involved: 

"We’ve suspended all work with the grant," Dillard said. "There’s nothing else going on with the exchange at this point."

Governor Nixon could move the grant to another state agency but that has yet to happen.  Meanwhile, a bill moving through the state Senate this week would bar the governor from establishing an exchange and ban state agencies from taking part in any exchange planning unless approved by the legislature.