Hillary Clinton Sends Kansas Lawmakers a Message
January 11, 2016

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is calling on Kansas to expand its Medicaid program to provide health coverage for thousands of additional families.

Clinton issued a statement Monday, hours before the Republican-dominated Legislature opened its annual session.

The federal health overhaul championed by Democratic President Barack Obama encourages states to expand their Medicaid programs and promises the federal government will pay almost all of the cost.

Clinton said expanding Medicaid also would help small rural hospitals.

She said, “Health care for Kansas families should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few.”

Top Kansas Republicans have been skeptical that the federal government will keep its funding promises.

Told of Clinton’s statement, Kansas House Speaker and Stilwell Republican Ray Merrick dismissed it.

He responded, “Hillary who?”

Medicaid Expansion Defeated Again as Missouri House Passes Budget
March 12, 2015

(AP) – A proposed state budget passed Thursday by the Missouri House would increase education spending but provide no money to expand Medicaid eligibility or give state employees a pay raise.

The more than $26 billion budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 now moves to the Senate.

Expansion for Medicaid eligibility, although not included in the budget, dominated debate between the Republican supermajority and Democrats.

GOP House and Senate leaders repeatedly rejected calls from Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and members of his party to expand Medicaid eligibility to as many as 300,000 low-income adults under the terms of President Barack Obama’s health care law. An expansion could bring Missouri about $2 billion annually of additional federal Medicaid funding.

But Republican lawmakers haven’t “taken the bait,” said Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob. He said expanding Medicaid could cost the state more money once full federal funding of the program stops in 2016 and states are responsible for paying for a portion of the expenses, eventually 10 percent.

Torpey Says the Politics of Medicaid Remain Tough
June 5, 2014

Independence Examiner via JohnCombest:

Just a few weeks after the Missouri General Assembly got underway in January, state Rep. Noel Torpey conceded the difficulty of getting major changes he sought for the state’s Medicaid program.
“ … I really believe we need to put the politics aside and look at policy,” Torpey said in February.
Legislators adjourned last month and once again without acting on a proposal by Gov. Jay Nixon to expand the program, adding coverage for about 300,000 people – including 40,000 in Jackson County – despite pleas from hospital and business groups around the state. Advocates say refusing to expand the program along the lines that the federal government wants is not only denying working people health coverage but is hammering hospitals financially.
Torpey’s bill to restructure the program, add recipients and accept federal money to pay it – as about half of the states have done – got out of a House committee but no further this year.
“Certain people can’t get around the fact that it’s the Affordable Care Act,” he said at last Friday’s legislative briefing sponsored by the Independence Chamber of Commerce.
When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, two years ago, it also issued a second major ruling: The federal government could not compel states to expand Medicaid, as envisioned under the ACA. Instead, Washington would have to rely on incentives. It’s offering to pay the full cost of new enrollees for a few years and then taper back to 90 percent by the end of the decade. That would have meant $900 million for Missouri this year, according to Nixon.
“And it’s the fiscally right thing to do in Missouri,” Torpey said.
But as Torpey outlined it Friday, the politics of Medicaid in Missouri are straightforward. Three years ago legislators voted on health exchanges, also part of Obamacare and the means by which millions of Americans since have bought health insurance.
In the Missouri House, four representatives who voted for that subsequently lost races for the Senate.
“They lost on that vote and that vote alone,” Torpey said.

Read more: http://www.examiner.net/article/20140603/News/140609773#ixzz33lh4P4lm

Missouri Lawmakers Reach Final Day, adjournment set for 6 Tonight
May 16, 2014

(AP) – Missouri lawmakers are beginning their final day of work with many of their top priorities already accomplished and with little chance of success on several other high-profile items.

The Missouri Constitution sets a 6 p.m. Friday deadline to pass legislation.

Still pending on the final day are bills authorizing a bond issuance for public buildings and attempting to nullify certain federal gun-control laws.

But lawmakers already have enacted an income tax cut and passed complex measures overhauling the state’s laws on criminal penalties and unaccredited school districts. The Republican-led Legislature also has already voted to place a transportation sales tax on the ballot and lengthen Missouri’s abortion waiting period.

Some Democratic priorities already have been written off, including a Medicaid expansion and the restoration of campaign contribution limits.

Silvey Developing ‘Private Option’ Medicaid Alternative
March 28, 2014

Clay County State Senator Ryan Silvey is developing a Missouri Republican alternative to Medicaid expansion is the state is being developed, according to KMBC TV.
The plan is similar to one now in place in Arkansas, Iowa and Pennsylvania. The plan would permit the uninsured to use state health care law money, provided for Washington, to buy private insurance coverage.
Silvey objected to Medicaid expansion because he fears the state budget can’t handle it.
Silvey, however, believes the state’s Medicaid system has to be reformed.
In an opinion piece earlier this week in the Springfield News Leader newspaper, Silvey wrote doing nothing on the issue is not an option.
“Moving some folks into a private option, having the state give subsidies for them to obtain their own insurance is an attractive way to try and make things run a little bit smoother,” said Brendan Cossette a lobbyist for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber has now joined Governor Jay Nixon and the Missouri Hospital Association in the effort to expand Medicaid in the state.
Currently, Missouri has 801,000 uninsured citizens, according to the Hospital Association.
A Medicaid expansion plan being pushed by Democratic Governor jay Nixon would provide health insurance through Medicaid for almost 300,000 Missourians.
One of the premises of this plan is that the ‘private option” would permit the state to obtain about $2.2 billion dollars a year the federal government is offering.
That would be 100% of the cost of Missouri Medicaid expansion. The money is available to 2014 and 2015. Because Missouri did not start its own exchange last year, the money was not available to the state.
Governor Nixon has complained bitterly Missouri is letting money that should come back to Missouri be sent to other states.
He says his plan would add coverage for about 300,000 Missourians.
In a statement Friday, Nixon’s office was critical of the plan linking Medicaid expansion with welfare reform.
“By bringing in unrelated programs, this proposal creates unnecessary obstacles to health care for 300, 000 Missourians,” according to the statement.
In an effort to lure reluctant GOP lawmakers to the plan, its developers are including entitlement reform as part of the package.
Some of those proposed reforms would include tightening regulations in the state’s assistance to needy families program, and the state element of the Food Stamp program.
Cossette also says this plan eases the strain on Missouri hospital caused by the unpaid for care they provide to Missourians without insurance.
The Hospital Association states more than $1 billion a year is spent by Missouri hospitals on uncompensated care. In the Kansas City area, the unpaid for care amounts to more than 530 million dollars a year, according to the Association.