St. Louis Public Radio News
6:27 am
Tue March 10, 2009

Medicaid expansion defeated in Mo. House

Jefferson City, MO – An attempt to adopt part of Governor Jay Nixon's plan to expand Medicaid was defeated today in the Missouri House.

An amendment to a hospital tax bill would have allowed hospitals to voluntarily accept a higher tax rate and use the extra funds to expand Medicaid coverage to nearly 35,000 low-income Missourians.

But the amendment was voted down by the GOP majority. House Budget Chairman Allen Icet (R, Wildwood) questions how much support there was for the amendment.

"None of the providers approached me and said, 'We like this idea, we're willing to participate,' because they get very sensitive when we raise their rates," Icet said.

A spokesman for the Missouri Hospital Association says, though, that they support the governor's proposal.

It remains to be seen if a compromise can be reached before the 2009 session ends.

The amendment was sponsored by State Representative Rachel Bringer (D, Palmyra).

"It's been very disappointing that the appropriation authority is not being given in the budget for this to happen...it's not costing the state any general revenue, so I don't understand why the appropriation authority is not being given," Bringer said.

Bringer's amendment would have increased health care access from 25 to 50 percent of the federal poverty level. She says it would have also enabled the state to draw down more than $90 million dollars from the federal government.

The House Budget Committee is working to approve the state's 2010 spending plan before the end of the week.