Groups advocating for health-care access for all Missourians urged the state Senate to reject a proposed constitutional amendment to undermine Medicaid expansion passed by the House.
House Joint Resolution 117 would empower the Legislature to block services to the hundreds of thousands of newly eligible residents who are signing up, by repealing expansion and making it subject to annual funding.
Patty Hendren, certified application counselor and program director for the Randolph County Caring Community Partnership, said before voters approved Medicaid expansion, too many people fell into the Medicaid gap, meaning they earned too much to qualify for Medicaid but earned too little to afford Marketplace insurance.
“These people have made choices not to get care because they’re fearful of losing everything they work so hard for,” Hendren explained. “If I could say anything to the legislators, I would say please don’t go backward.”
If the Senate follows the House in passing the measure, it would go on the Nov. 8 ballot for voters to approve or disapprove. The amendment would implement a work requirement for the Medicaid expansion population of at least 80 hours each month of employment, education, community service, job searching, or participation in a substance-abuse treatment program.
Hendren added many of the newly-eligible Missourians have gone decades without health insurance, and therefore have not had much of the preventive care they needed.
She argued it is one of the reasons so many people started applying as soon as Medicaid opened up to households making up to 138% of the poverty level.
“We’ve had some situations where Medicaid has definitely kind of bottlenecked up because we’ve had so many people apply,” Hendren observed. “They’ve gone so many years without having any insurance, so it was an overwhelming amount that was applying.”
Applications for Medicaid are supposed to be processed within 45 days, but according to the state, it has been taking an average of 70 days to process them. Advocates say Missouri’s Family Support Division needs to be beefed up to handle the additional demand from the expansion population.