Budget writers in the Missouri Senate have passed that chamber’s version of the state budget for next year.
The Senate plan is about $86 million smaller than the version passed by the House last month. Cuts include $13 million from child care provider grants, $7 million from other childcare services, and $1 million from meals at state prisons. Budget Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) acknowledges that many of the cuts target Medicaid.
State officials: Mo. tightening Medicaid eligibility criteria
Low-income seniors and the disabled can qualify for Medicaid, even if their income is higher than the program's limits. They can do so by making a monthly payment to the state or by spending their excess income on medical bills.
Legislative leaders say budget items are expected to top the agenda in the coming weeks. Those items include the state's troubled pension system and Medicaid costs.
House Deputy Majority leader, Democrat Frank Mautino, says Medicaid reform could end up being more controversial than pensions. Mautino says payment cycles are stretching too long and that cuts have to be made.
Missouri will receive nearly $14 million, as part of a settlement of a multi-state lawsuit against drug manufacturer Merck.
The lawsuit centers on the prescription drug Vioxx, which the company marketed as a painkiller for people diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Merck has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for promoting the drug before receiving FDA approval, and it will pay $950 million in criminal and civil penalties. The company halted sales of Vioxx in 2004 after evidence showed the drug doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Updated 4:25 p.m. with comments from Mo. House Budget Chairman Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City), who also oversees an interim committee looking into complaints against SynCare.
The State of Missouri is taking over the duties of SynCare, an Indianapolis-based company which won a contract in February worth as much as $5.5 million a year to determine whether thousands of Missouri Medicaid recipients qualify for home-based medical services or help with daily chores.