Sen. Williams and Dems frustrated with GOP Medicaid antics | Local News

With the voter-approved Medicaid Expansion Amendment again under Republican onslaught, State Sen. Brian Williams is tearing up the misguided effort.

“To think that this is still a conversation after voters showed at the polls that they want to expand Medicaid in Missouri, well, it’s extremely frustrating that we’re still having this conversation,” Williams said.

“We should do everything in our power to ensure people have access to healthcare and not create any barriers. It’s important to be clear that people on the Medicaid expansion are already working, and if they’re not working, they would have been eligible under the old system.

Republican lawmakers introduced a bill in the House on Monday that would include a work requirement for those eligible for Medicaid. The Biden administration has repeatedly said it will not approve any work requirements legislation.

In addition, a proposed constitutional change backed by GOP lawmakers could allow the legislature to make annual appropriations for Medicaid, or simply not fund the expansion.

Adults aged 19 to 64 earning up to $17,774 per year, or $36,570 for a family of four are eligible for Medicaid. There is no deadline for joining this insurance program.

Registration was slow because only 25% of newly eligible Missourians enrolled in Medicaid. Williams believes this is due to the state’s lack of education.

“I don’t think the state has done an effective job of clearly explaining how to register; we encouraged people last July to register on July 1,” he said.

Enrollment in Missouri is already higher than it was when open enrollment ended last year, according to Show Me Coverage. According to a statement, 92% of Missouri residents who sign up for Marketplace insurance are getting discounts, up from 80-85% from previous years.

However, with the slow enrollment numbers, there is a question of whether the state is clear about how people newly eligible for Medicaid can enroll.

“There have been so many confusing messages about whether or not they will qualify, whether or not they can apply for Medicaid,” Williams said. “We have a lot of mixed messages and letting politicians here in Jefferson City move the goal post every year has only contributed to the chaos.”

The bill in question would restrict access to Medicaid instead of providing access to hundreds of thousands of Missourians.

“That’s the real reason it’s a mess and in turn makes Missouri less healthy, less safe and less prosperous,” he said. “These people work and shouldn’t be intimidated by bureaucracy and rants.”

Representative Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, told the Missouri News Network that the effort is another attempt to reverse the will of Missouri voters.

“It makes me angry and tired,” he said.

“Every step of the way, (the Republicans) are just trying to fight against the people and against everyone, against common sense.

Rep. Sarah Unsicker, D-Shrewsbury, Democratic Caucus Policy Chair and member of the House Subcommittee on Health Care Reform, a job requirement could be costly for the state.

“It would block our entire Medicaid program because the work requirements would still be in the constitution, so we would have to do them because that’s what the constitution says,” she said.

“But (the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) wouldn’t allow it, so they wouldn’t give us the federal Medicaid match. That would leave Missouri responsible for 90% of the federally funded Medicaid budget.”

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