MO HealthNet | St. Louis Public Radio

MO HealthNet

In his hospital room at Touchette Regional Hospital in Centreville, patient Steven Glispie finishes signing the paperwork to enroll in Medicaid.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Proponents of a Medicaid expansion in Missouri want to allow voters to override the state's Republican leaders, who have refused to extend coverage to more people.

The Healthcare for Missouri coalition is collecting signatures on a petition that would place a Medicaid expansion on the November 2020 ballot. If approved by voters, Missouri would expand the health insurance program to those who earn up to $18,000 a year. Missouri is one of 14 states that has not made the program available to more low-income people.

Campaign organizers say the expansion is necessary to extend health care coverage to people who have jobs but lack health insurance.

Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications

When Missouri officials announced earlier this year that more than 100,000 people, many of them children, had been dropped from the state Medicaid program, critics assailed the cuts as callous and unnecessary.

But House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, said Monday that the cuts largely resulted from a new computer system's ability to weed out enrollees who earned too much money to qualify for the program.

Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

About 60 percent of the approximately 70,000 Missourians purged from the state’s Medicaid program in 2018 lost coverage because they failed to reply to a mailed renewal form, according to state data.

The Missouri Department of Social Services started using an automated system to determine residents’ Medicaid eligibility last year. If the system couldn’t find their information, the state mailed enrollees renewal forms to complete and return.

Some health experts and state officials are concerned people otherwise eligible for the program are living without insurance because they never received the mail.

Keith Carter, 53, waits to pick up a prescription for diabetes at Affinia Healthcare in St. Louis. Though he falls in the income gap, he's able to get his preventive care covered through Gateway to Better Health.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri likely would not have to spend any additional money to expand Medicaid to insure more low-income people, according to a report from the Washington University Center on Health Economics and Policy.

The state spends nearly $4 billion to provide Medicaid to people with disabilities, pregnant women, children and some seniors.

Researchers say adding people who make up to 138 percent of the federal poverty rate – close to $17,000 annually – likely wouldn’t cost Missouri extra funds, because the state would receive increased federal funding under a Medicaid expansion.

Missouri Speaker of the House Todd Richardson listens to representatives speak on the last day of the legislative session.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A Missouri lawmaker is demanding that state health officials explain how 73,000 people dropped off Medicaid rolls last year.

The state debuted an automated system in 2018 to help identify people who were no longer eligible for Medicaid, the health-insurance program for low-income and disabled people. Among the system's critics is state Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton, who worries that its flaws led to the nearly 7 percent drop in Medicaid enrollment. Most of the people who lost coverage are children.

Department of Social Services officials have pointed to decreased unemployment as one reason for the drop, but Sifton thinks the numbers don’t add up.

Missouri Speaker of the House Todd Richardson listens to representatives speak on the last day of the legislative session.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson will leave the Statehouse to oversee management of the state’s low-income health-insurance program.

Gov. Mike Parson on Monday appointed Richardson, 41, director of MO HealthNet. The appointment will take effect Nov. 1, about two months before Richardson's term in the House was to end.

Washington University announced a medical apprenticeship program, which will teach medical assistants to draw blood and do other clinical tasks.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

As Congress deliberates over whether to renew funding for children’s health insurance and community health centers, the delayed decision is forcing local agencies to make contingency plans.

The funding represents $3.4 million for the nonprofit Myrtle Hilliard Davis Comprehensive Health Centers in St. Louis.

“For us, it’s a possibility that we would have to close one of our sites,” MHD spokeswoman Deneen Busby said. “It would be about 60 employees impacted.”

The Christian Care Home at 800 Chambers Road in Ferguson. A union representing about 100 employees is planning for a strike to begin on Dec. 1, 2017.
Provided by SEIU Healthcare

After filing a federal complaint, nursing home workers at the Christian Care Home in Ferguson plan to strike outside the facility early Friday morning. Union officials said they are protesting unfair labor practices.

Brenda Davis, a certified medication technician, said that leadership cut back hours for staff and changed schedules without giving notice, or a chance for the union to bargain. That left many shifts understaffed.

“We just don’t have the help. There’s nobody there. The work is so heavy, we have literally had two people for a floor of 50 and 60 residents,” said Davis, a member of the union's bargaining committee.

A pharmacist at Crider Health Center in Wentzville.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

This week, Missouri transferred the state-run health coverage of about 240,000 low-income adults and children to managed care plans run by three companies: WellCare, Centene Corporation and United Health Group.

The move is part of an increasing privatization of Missouri’s Medicaid program, MO HealthNet. Legislators call it a cost-saving measure that improves efficiency in health care. Critics say the transfer happened too quickly, putting patient health at risk.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Missouri legislators are considering a measure that would allow the state to fold into a proposal that has become a popular GOP refrain: Convert funding for state Medicaid programs into block grants.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

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.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

2016 will be the third year that Missouri goes without Medicaid expansion, as Republicans have stayed firmly against it in the General Assembly.

Flickr | e-MagineArt.com

Missouri’s Medicaid program — MO HealthNet — failed to follow federal requirements for drug payments that could have saved the U.S. government millions, according to an audit released today. Now, a federal investigator is asking the state to refund about $35 million, the federal share of the total cost of those drugs.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Administrators for Missouri’s Medicaid program told members of their oversight committee that they are getting closer to fixing their processing delays for new applicants. But the wait can still take months.  

“We are now under 13,000 pending applications. I think we will get into that normal, historical range within the next week,” said Family Support Division Director Alyson Campbell at an oversight committee meeting of MO HealthNet, the social services division that administers Medicaid in Missouri.   

Andrew Taylor / Flickr

Personal information for more than 25,000 Missourians in the state’s managed health plan went out to the wrong mailing addresses.

The Department of Social Services announced Monday that one of its MO HealthNet  contractors, Infocrossing Inc., sent the information out between December 2009 and June of this year.

It included full social security numbers for at least half of the people affected, and the last four digits for the rest.

MO HealthNet, the state’s Medicaid program under DSS, has sent out written notices to those affected by the mailing error.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri legislature closed its 2013 legislative session without resolving what was likely the most important question facing it: whether to adopt the proposal put forward by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, to expand the Medicaid program to a projected 260,000 uninsured people in Missouri.  While a bipartisan solution did not pass, the legislature appointed a committee to consider this question further. Recent signals suggest that a compromise solution could be found in the 2014 session.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 28, 2013: St. Louis and St. Louis County started a promising pilot program last year to extend medical care to more of their working poor. Called Gateway to Better Health, the program offered the uninsured the chance to trade costly emergency room health care for a better-coordinated system that links people to medical providers at health centers.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 20, 2011 - State Sen. Scott Rupp, R-St. Charles, says Missouri lawmakers should take no action on any insurance exchanges until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the legality of the health-reform law under which exchanges are being created.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 27, 2010 - The recession has left many Missouri children and their families in "economically tenuous circumstances" as they try to cope with rising poverty, high unemployment and less access to affordable health care, according to the latest Kids Count report for Missouri.

Photo by Robert Joiner | Beacon staff

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 22, 2008 On some summer evenings, after the sun and heat disappear and the weather turns cool and pleasant, Brenda Benedict sits on her front porch on Bellevue Avenue in Maplewood, does needlepoint and recites a prayer that nothing else will go wrong in her world.