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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers appear likely to restore dental coverage for hundreds of thousands of adult Medicaid recipients, nearly a decade after it was eliminated.
   
The Senate Appropriations Committee agreed Wednesday to include $48 million of federal and state money in next year's Medicaid budget to pay for adult dental care. The House previously approved the same amount of money, although there are differences between the two chambers about exactly how that money would be spent.
 
Missouri lawmakers eliminated dental coverage for adult Medicaid recipients under a 2005 law that also made other cuts to the program.
 
More than 300,000 adult Medicaid recipients could benefit from the proposed restoration of dental care.
Children already receive dental coverage under Missouri's Medicaid program.
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A bill revamping the management of Missouri's Medicaid program has been set aside after debate turned tense between two Republican senators.
 
Sens. Ryan Silvey and John Lamping engaged in a sometimes pointed discussion Wednesday during which they questioned each other's conservative ideology and rhetoric.
 
Silvey wants to expand health care coverage to thousands of low-income adults by tapping into an influx of federal Medicaid dollars available under President Barack Obama's health care law. The Republican from Kansas City says it can be done without busting the budget.
 
Lamping remains opposed to taking the new federal Medicaid money for expanded coverage. The Republican from St. Louis County says lawmakers need to stand firm against anything stemming from Obama's health care law.
 
The Senate legislation does not currently include Medicaid expansion
Published in Local News
   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - In case there was any doubt, several Republican state senators are making it clear that there will be no expansion of Medicaid eligibility this year in Missouri.
   Five GOP senators took to the Senate floor Monday as the Legislature returned from spring break to say they will block any attempt to expand Medicaid eligibility during the session that ends in mid-May.
   Their strong pronouncement came a day before a House committee is to hear testimony on a proposal that would expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of lower-income adults, partly by subsidizing their enrollment in private health insurance policies. The House legislation would link the Medicaid expansion to a broader overhaul of the program.
   States that expand Medicaid eligibility can get extra federal money under President Barack Obama's health law.
 
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The chairman of a special Missouri House panel is outlining potential Medicaid changes that could expand coverage to lower-income adults while reducing it for children.

Jefferson City Republican Rep. Jay Barnes offered a detailed financial estimate Wednesday showing the potential changes could save about $42 million in revenues by the time the changes are fully implemented in 2021.

That figure assumes Missouri would spend more money to add adults living in poverty to its Medicaid rolls and subsidize private insurance policies through a federal online marketplace for adults earning slightly more than the poverty level.

It assumes savings to the state by eliminating Medicaid coverage for some children and blind adults. Barnes says they could get policies through the federally run health insurance exchange.

Published in Local News

   A clinic that serves mostly the uninsured and under-insured in St. Louis is closing its doors.  St. Louis ConnectCare has announced it will close the Smiley Urgent Care Center November 15th.  

   The non-profit had announced in August it would shut down its specialty services, but now says it must also close the clinic at the old Regional Hospital on Delmar.  

   St. Louis Regional Health Commission Chief Robert Fruend believes other health care providers will follow suit because of state budget cuts.  Fruend told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that 1,000 healthcare jobs have been lost in the region in the last six months. 

   The paper reports a Missouri Hospital Association estimate that the state will lose $4 billion in health care funding over the next six years, mainly from budget cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.  They say the decision by Missouri lawmakers not to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act will further limit the amount of health care funds coming into the state.

 

Published in Local News

   CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois officials say the state saved about $44 million in five months because of a vendor's work to scrub unentitled Illinois residents from the Medicaid rolls. Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Julie Hamos detailed the savings Tuesday at a legislative hearing in Chicago.

   The work by Reston, Va.-based Maximus resulted in the state canceling Medicaid for more than 125,000 people. Outsourcing that task will cost the state about $70 million over two years.

   Hamos says 40 percent of the people kicked off Medicaid had no medical costs in the past six months, resulting in lower than projected savings.

   She says Illinois officials still would like to complete the contract with Maximus and will appeal an arbitrator's ruling that would require the contract to be canceled Dec. 31.

 
Published in Local News

   Call it the tale of two hearings.  

   Missouri Senate and House committees each held hearings Wednesday on the state's Medicaid program.  Each focused on different perspectives.  

   At the House hearing in St. Louis, most testified in favor of expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.  But at the Senate hearing in Jefferson City, the stress was on the need to overhaul the system first -- by finding ways to reduce costs and improve care.  

   The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Missouri's 8.5-billion dollar Medicaid program currently serves 875-thousand low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children.  Expansion would add about 260-thousand low-income, working people.

Published in Local News

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri officials say more than 1,300 Medicaid participants had some of their personal information mailed to incorrect addresses.

   The Department of Social Services said Monday a software programming error led to the wrong mailings by a contractor called Infocrossing Inc.

   The agency says the error was discovered June 6 and affected correspondence sent to 1,357 managed care participants from October 16th, 2011 through June 7th of this year.

   The department says no personal medical or financial information was released. But it says the incorrect mailings could have included participants' names, birth dates, MO HealthNet identification numbers, phone numbers and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.

   Officials say there's no reason to believe any identity theft occurred, but Infocrossing is offering free credit monitoring services to those affected.

 
Published in Local News

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A steady stream of speakers at a Columbia Medicaid reform hearing urged a panel of citizens and Missouri lawmakers Saturday to not only reform but also expand the government-funded health care program.

The dozens of speakers included doctors, disability advocates, hospital executives and citizens who would become eligible for Medicaid under expansion envisioned by the federal Affordable Care Act.

The House Interim Committee on Citizens and Legislators Working Group on Medicaid Eligibility and Reform is one of three special committees created by state lawmakers after the Republican-led Legislature repeatedly rejected Medicaid expansion proposals in the 2013 session.

Committee chairman Noel Torpey of Independence and several other legislators on the 52-person panel emphasized that repairing what he called a "broken" Medicaid system is equally if not more important than broadening access.

Published in Local News

ST. LOUIS (AP) — An audit by the Federal Office of Inspector General says Missouri should pay back more than $21 million in federal Medicaid payments made to a state-operated children's hospital in St. Louis County.

The audit found that Hawthorn Children's Psychiatric Hospital failed for five years to fulfill regulatory requirements to qualify for the federal Medicaid reimbursements.

Missouri Department of Social Services spokeswoman Rebecca Woelfel says the department disagrees with the audit and will continue to defend its position. The state also filed a letter disagreeing with the finding.

The Office of Inspector General cannot require the state to pay back the money. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will decide whether to seek repayment of some or all of the money, and Missouri can appeal that decision.

Published in Local News
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