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Missouri House Democrats Ask Governor To Halt Dropping People From Medicaid

Some Missouri House Democrats are calling on the governor to stop the removal of people from Medicaid rolls until the state can get a better handle on children losing their coverage.

In recent weeks, Republican leadership in Missouri has publicly recognized that roughly 60,000 children who still qualify for coverage have been dropped from Medicaid. Previously, Gov. Mike Parson and Republican leaders in the statehouse have said the drop in the Medicaid rolls was because of a better economy and restructuring the outdated Medicaid system. 

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said children were mistakenly kicked off when a parent lost eligibility, but the entire family was kicked off even when the children still qualified. 

“The state messed up. We kicked children off who should have had coverage,” Quade said. “We need to be doing everything in our power to make sure that those kids who qualify have health care coverage.” 

Democrats have filed several pieces of legislation in an attempt to address the problem, two of which have Republican support. 

One measure would streamline the process of applying for Medicaid and other public assistance, including SNAP, TANF and child care assistance. This measure was voted out of committee on Monday and will head to the House floor for a vote next. 

Another bill, filed by Rep. Sarah Unsicker, D-Shrewsbury, would allow children who qualify for Medicaid to remain enrolled for a full year before their eligibility needs to be reverified. The goal is to reduce the turnover of children going on and off the program. 

“Our system needs to catch up with today’s workforce, where not everyone works 9 to 5 and incomes fluctuate over time or as seasonal work opportunities come and go,” Unsicker said. “By guaranteeing coverage for a full year, we can prevent kids from falling through the cracks.”

Unsicker’s measure has not been assigned to a committee. But Speaker Elijah Haahr has assigned a similar piece of legislation sponsored by Rep. Steve Helms, R-Springfield, to committee where it is waiting to be heard. 

Quade has also filed legislation that would streamline Medicaid enrollment and ensure that every individual in a family would be individually verified. She said the intent behind this bill is to ensure children who qualify do not lose coverage when a parent loses Medicaid eligibility. 

Parson’s administration did not immediately respond for comment regarding the call to stop disenrolling people from Medicaid. Follow Jaclyn on Twitter:  @DriscollNPR

Send questions and comments about this story to  feedback@stlpublicradio.org

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Jaclyn Driscoll is the Jefferson City statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio. She joined the politics team in 2019 after spending two years at the Springfield, Illinois NPR affiliate. Jaclyn covered a variety of issues at the statehouse for all of Illinois' public radio stations, but focused primarily on public health and agriculture related policy. Before joining public radio, Jaclyn reported for a couple television stations in Illinois and Iowa as a general assignment reporter.
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