interim committees

Teddy Nykiel / KBIA News

 

Echoing testimonies from earlier hearings in Independence and Springfield, witness after witness spoke in support of Medicaid expansion at a House interim committee hearing in Columbia on Saturday.

Marshall Griffin- / St. Louis Public Radio

Two days of hearings are underway by an interim House committee looking into how well state agencies in Missouri are delivering services to their clients.

The hearings began with a critique of the Missouri Department of Social Services.  Dan Amsden with the group Spending Oversight Council testified that DSS officials are doing a poor job of preventing non-eligible people from receiving welfare benefits, and of tracking those who no longer need them.

Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) has appointed a 50-member task force to study potential changes to state’s Medicaid program.

Jones pledged weeks ago that the group will include Missourians from diverse backgrounds. The task force includes 36 private citizens, most of whom are health care practitioners or hospital officials from all over the state. A few are from consumer advocacy groups. One person identified as a Medicaid recipient.

Rep. Noel Torpey (R-Independence) will chair the group, which also includes 14 legislative membres. He says the group will hold six public hearings throughout the state between July 10 and Aug. 14, to get input from the public on Medicaid reform.

“I’m eager to hear what Missourians have to say about Medicaid,” Torpey said. “Whether they think it’s good to reform, bad, or indifferent. I’m expecting some personal testimony, I would think, on how they’ve experienced it personally.”

Teddy Nykiel / KBIA News

  Even though Republican lawmakers turned back Democratic efforts to expand Medicaid this year, House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) has created two committees to look into the issue this summer.  The first committee will have House members teaming up with citizens to explore ways to reform the Medicaid system. 

That committee will then give their findings to the second committee, which will make recommendations for next year’s legislative session.  Jones says the Medicaid system is severely broken, and the more people working on fixing it, the better.

File Photo / KBIA

Missouri lawmakers will continue working on several issues after last month’s end of the 2013 regular session.  House Speaker Tim Jones has announced the formation of an interim committee to examine the state’s election laws.  It’s being chaired by fellow Republican Sue Entlicher, who formerly served as Clerk of Polk County:

“We’re looking for anything to keep the statutes up to date and not repeat anything…then also we’re going to comprise, hopefully, a plan to take care of any of the voting machines that need to be updated or need to be replaced,” Entlicher said. 

Teddy Nykiel / KBIA News

 

Although the Missouri legislative session has ended, the discussion on what to do with the state’s Medicaid program continues.

The Affordable Care Act asks states to expand their Medicaid eligibility to cover those who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s about $30,000 for a family of four. Missouri’s Republican-majority legislature has refused to expand Medicaid, calling it a broken system. Now, both the state House and Senate have established interim committees to study ways to reform Medicaid.