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Mo. House Committee Kicks Off Series Of Medicaid Hearings

A series of hearings by state lawmakers into Missouri's Medicaid system has begun.

The interim House Committee on Medicaid Transformation spent much of the Thursday looking at proposed changes in Arkansas and Iowa, which would include expanding access to private health insurers and rewarding healthy behavior.  

Sidney Watson is a law professor at St. Louis University who also advocates for improved access to Medicaid. She told the committee more about the waiver Iowa is seeking from the federal government.

"There is a monthly payment that people have to make, and to me that looks like a premium," Watson said. "It will be waived if you meet some wellness criteria. If you don't pay that, you do lose your benefits — there's a 60-day grace period, and after that you lose coverage."

Committee chairman Jay Barnes, a Republican from Jefferson City, sponsored a similar proposal this year that died in the Missouri House.

"I think it's helpful to allow states to increase cost sharing," Barnes said. "(We) heard some talk today about, 'well, some people might not pay, and then what happens?' Well, other people will."

Barnes also told committee members from both parties that any new Medicaid proposals should be submitted before October 15. Several more meetings are planned in October and November.

Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
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