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.
The Missouri Senate has passed legislation extending several health care taxes that help generate about $3 billion annually for state's Medicaid program.
The special taxes are levied on such things hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacies. They are used to draw down federal Medicaid money, which is then distributed to health care providers through various programs.
Missouri's health care taxes are to expire Sept. 30.
January continues to be a snowy, slipper month for the St. Louis area. Several accidents are being reported this morning, and several schools are closed - many for the third in a row. The latest problems come after about an inch of snow fell yesterday, followed by a light freezing drizzle this morning. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said interstates 64 and 70 in parts of St. Louis and St. Charles are particularly slick.