medicaid

Update June 9 with signature: Gov. Jay Nixon signed legislation on Thursday that could expand Medicaid eligibility for Missourians who are elderly or living with a disability.

For decades, Missourians who were elderly, blind or disabled could only have $1,000 or less in savings. The bill Nixon signed would gradually raise that asset limit to $5,000 for an unmarried person and $10,000 for a married couple.

On a rainy Tuesday morning in May, social worker Meghan Bragers drove up to Ferguson, Mo. to visit a 23-year-old expectant mother named Marie Anderson.

Anderson, who was 33 weeks pregnant at the time, was having a particularly difficult pregnancy.

“She’s been in a car accident, her car has been totaled, she’s having back issues, she’s having increased depressive symptoms,” Bragers said en route to the visit. “Things have gotten pretty difficult.”

Difficult, or as Anderson herself called it, “a tornado.”


missouri capitol
Ryan Famuliner / KBIA

  JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Senators have voted to increase how much money aging, blind and disabled Missourians on Medicaid can keep in assets.

Senators passed the legislation 29-1 Tuesday, but it heads back to the House because of Senate changes.

Aging, blind and disabled Missourians on Medicaid currently can't keep more than $1,000 in assets such as savings, or $2,000 for married couples. Republican Sen. Bob Dixon says that contributes to a cycle of dependency.

Earlier this year, 69-year-old Aneita McCloskey needed her two front teeth filed down and capped.

“They were kind of worn down and they were also getting little tears and cavities,” she recalls.

Without dental insurance, McCloskey is on the hook for the full $2,400 cost of the procedure. She was given 18 months to pay it before she gets charged interest. That’ll be hard to do on her fixed income.

In years past she would have had to wait to see the dentist again until she could afford it.


missouri capitol
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

The House has voted to send a supplemental budget bill to the Senate that calls for nearly $500 million more in spending this year.

Carla used to get dialysis a couple of times a week at the public hospital in Indianapolis, Eskenazi Hospital. She would sit in a chair for hours as a machine took blood out of her arm, cleaned it, and pumped it back into her body.

Then one day in 2014, she was turned away.  

She says even though her lungs were full of fluid, her doctors told her that her condition wasn’t urgent enough to treat that day. “I explained to the doctors that I couldn’t breathe and they told me it wasn’t true, that I had to wait three more days,” she recalls.

Missouri Given Federal Grant for Health Clinics

Oct 21, 2015
United States Department of Health and Human Services

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded just under 23 million dollars in Planning Grants to 25 states across the country to support Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics.


Even Medicaid is out of reach for some of Missouri’s poorest children, who are uninsured at a rate 2.5 times as high as their counterparts in Illinois. Being uninsured can limit a child’s access to health care or wreak havoc on a family’s finances in the case of an emergency. 

New census numbers show that about 5 percent of Missouri children in families with incomes below 200 percent of poverty ($3,348 a month for a family of three) did not have health insurance in 2014. In Illinois, which has twice as many low-income families, only 2 percent of children in that demographic were uninsured.

Congress established Medicaid fifty years ago today as a health insurance program for the poor, with the intention that the program would provide care just as good as what the rest of Americans receive. According to Rutgers University Medicaid scholar Frank J. Thompson, the program has done a lot of good, even if it hasn’t quite lived up to that early goal.

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images_of_money / flickr

  A Missouri tax on medical service providers that helps fund the state Medicaid program has been reauthorized by the governor.

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images_of_money / flickr

A one-year reauthorization for a tax that provides a large chunk of funding for Missouri's Medicaid program moved toward Governor Jay Nixon's desk on the final day of session.

Missouri Senate leaders are hoping to find a way to pass a critical medical funding bill, despite the chamber being all but shut down.

Tyler Adkisson

The six speakers representing the City of Columbia — including Mayor Bob McDavid — all shot a very clear set of data-backed messages to state legislators. But even with a multitude of statistics, one main point reigned above all others.

"So it's disingenuous for some legislators to say that we can't afford to expand Medicaid, just as it's disingenuous to say that Medicaid is broken," Fourth Ward City Council Member Ian Thomas said.


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images_of_money / flickr

  A new audit claims Missouri owes the federal government $34 million for not complying with Medicaid regulations.

A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services audit set for release Tuesday shows Missouri didn't bill drug manufacturers for rebates.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that meant drug companies kept more money while there was less for Medicaid recipients.

The Missouri Department of Social Services oversees the program and says it disagrees with the audit.

A department spokeswoman says the amount owed is closer to $7 million.

j. stephenconn / Flickr

Some mental health providers in rural Missouri are raising concerns about a provision passed by the Missouri Senate that would shift about 200,000 Medicaid recipients onto privatized managed care programs.

Loretta Fuge is a psychologist based in Mansfield, Mo. Currently, Fuge is reimbursed for seeing Medicaid patients through the state’s fee-for-service model. She has some experience with managed care and, she says, she isn’t a fan.

Missouri Senators Reject Medicaid Expansion

Apr 2, 2015
Missouri Capitol
File Photo / KBIA

Missouri lawmakers rejected a bill proposal calling for Medicaid eligibility expansion made available by the Affordable Care Act.

State senators voted 25-9 against Medicaid expansion on Tuesday after a two hour debate. The vote went directly along party lines, with the Republicans overwhelming the Democratic minority.

missouri capitol
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

About 300 members of the Missouri Medicaid Coalition marched through the Capitol halls on Thursday, March 19, urging lawmakers to expand Medicaid eligibility for low-income adults.

Republican legislative leaders have said that expanding Medicaid is a nonstarter this year.

Democratic House members have used debate on next fiscal year's budget as an opportunity to criticize the GOP for blocking the measure, which could mean as much as $2 billion in additional federal money.

If you’re in the market for fluorescent light bulbs, you might talk to Chris Smiley. In the past few weeks, she’s been trying to sell off what’s left of Sac-Osage Hospital.

“Casework, lighting, plumping, sinks, toilets. Anything you want,” Smiley says.

That’s not in her job description. She’s actually the CEO of Sac-Osage, a hospital in Osceola, Mo., that closed in September.

Andy Lamb / Flickr

Hepatitis C is a virus that affects the liver, often causing liver cancer or cirrhosis. Although they share a name, it is completely different from hepatitis A or B so current hepatitis vaccines don’t guard against hep C.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 3.2 million people in the United States have hepatitis C. But Bruce Burkett, Founder and Director of the Hep C Alliance, said the disease often goes untreated simply because people don’t know they are infected.

 


Teddy Nykiel / KBIA News

Residents from across Missouri attended a press conference at the Missouri State Capitol on Wednesday to discuss the possibilities of Medicaid expansion in the state.

Five panelists led the conference and told their stories about being a part of the coverage gap. This term describes the situation of people who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but don’t earn enough money to pay for health insurance or qualify for incentives through the Affordable Care Act.

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acephotos1 / dreamstime

 State officials say Missouri's Medicaid program will save an estimated $4.2 million in fiscal year 2016 by using a newer, cheaper drug to treat hepatitis C.

senate.mo.gov

A Missouri Republican who supports Medicaid expansion will introduce a bill that would cover veterans and their families.

Missouri residents with incomes below the federal poverty level, or $19,530 for a family of three, do not qualify for Medicaid or for subsidies to buy health insurance through a federally run website.

Sen. Ryan Silvey, of Kansas City, says that group includes veterans' families. He plans to introduce a bill expanding Medicaid for veterans that fall in the coverage gap created by Missouri's decision not to expand the program.

Images of Money via Flickr

The Affordable Care Act included a temporary bump in the Medicaid fees paid to physicians for certain primary care services. The intention behind the two-year, federally-funded increase was to encourage more physicians to participate in Medicaid to accommodate an expanding pool of Medicaid patients anticipated by the law.

But a 2012 Supreme Court decision opened a window for states to reject Medicaid expansion – Missouri is one of 23 states that have chosen not to expanded coverage – and as of Jan. 1, the Medicaid fee bump is expired as well.

I spoke with Dave Dillon and Andrew Wheeler of the Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) about the impact the fee increase expiration will have on Missouri hospitals.


Images of Money via Flickr

Missourians trying to use a call center to sign up for the state's Medicaid program are running into long delays, prompting nearly half of them to hang up before they get help.

Images of Money via Flickr

Missouri's Medicaid program is leading the nation in the number of people dropped from its rolls.

New figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that Missouri's Medicaid enrollment dropped by 37,260 people in June, compared with its average enrollment from July through September of last year.

That was the largest numerical decrease of any state, though it ranked second behind Nebraska in terms of the percentage decline.

missouri capitol
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

Missouri's budget concerns are continuing to mount.

Attorney General Chris Koster's office says the state cannot count on receiving $50 million of tobacco settlement proceeds in time to be used during the 2015 budget year that starts July 1.

How divisive was the debate over Medicaid expansion in Missouri this year?

Just ask Debbie Cole, a 51-year-old mother of four who lives in Butler, Mo., and signed a petition asking state legislators to extend Medicaid to cover more low-income residents.

“We all live different lives, and some people out there may be working two or three jobs and have no insurance, and they need it to survive,” she says.

About a month after signing the petition, Cole got a letter from her state senator, Republican Ed Emery of Lamar.

David Sachs / SEIU

  

  By now Missourians are familiar with the debate over expanding Medicaid in the state.

The Affordable Care Act gives most people the opportunity to purchase health insurance with help from federal tax credits. But individuals earning too little to qualify for these tax credits but too much to be covered under for Missouri Medicaid are stuck in what is called “The Gap.”

Maureen Lewis-Stump

Medicaid expansion has been a widely talked about subject throughout the state of Missouri. Medicaid is federally funded state healthcare program for those that do not make enough money to be their own healthcare, or their employer does not provide it for them.

The Medicaid policy in place now only covers those who make less than $4,500 a year total for a family of four. It also allows subsidies paid to those who make more than $89,000 a year. Those in between this gap are left without health insurance.

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