Feds say Missouri to get $968 million boost for Medicaid expansion; state mum on applications

With Missouri starting to process Medicaid applications for individuals under its newly expanded program, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said the state will be eligible to receive $968 million in federal funding over the next two years.

On Friday, the Missouri Department of Social Services began finalizing applications from individuals recently made eligible for health care benefits through Medicaid expansion. The Department of Social Services and MoHealthNet have not responded to multiple requests for comment about the start of application processing.

Medicaid expansion advocates in the state celebrated Friday as an important step in a lengthy process.

Missouri is one of 38 states, as well as the District of Columbia, that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s landmark 2010 health care law.

Missouri voters approved Medicaid expansion last year, but during its session this year the General Assembly did not explicitly provide funding for the program. This prompted Gov. Mike Parson to withdraw the application for federal funding of the program in May.

A legal battle ensued this summer, culminating with the Missouri Supreme Court ruling in July that the state must provide increased access to Medicaid benefits.

The 2020 vote expanded eligibility to Missouri citizens aged 19-64 who make up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or about $18,000 per year. An estimated 275,000 Missourians fall into this category.

The state has received more than 17,000 applications for the public health care program since August, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“Hundreds of thousands of Missourians can now gain the peace of mind of having health coverage through Medicaid,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a press release. “This is a win for all Missourians who have fought long and hard to gain their rightful access to quality health insurance made possible through the Affordable Care Act.”

The Missouri Hospital Association, an industry group representing more than 140 hospitals across the state, has supported Medicaid expansion and welcomed the increased access to health care that expansion will bring.

“Medicaid expansion will allow low-income workers to get and stay healthy,” said Dave Dillon, vice president of public and media relations for the MHA. “Many of these Missourians work in jobs that don’t offer health benefits, and because of how the Affordable Care Act was structured, could not purchase subsidized commercial policies in the marketplace.”

Voter education coalition Healthcare for Missouri, another vocal proponent of expansion, celebrated the progress that Friday represented.

“Today marks a major milestone in this long journey to connect Missourians with lifesaving healthcare,” Joni Wickham of Healthcare for Missouri said in a press release. “The will of the voters becomes reality today as Medicaid expansion implementation begins. Our diverse coalition is ready to roll up our sleeves and help all those eligible enroll in Medicaid.”

For applicants, the state has provided information about how to apply for benefits and what to expect after applying. Applicants will find out if they have been accepted via a confirmation letter that may take up to 45 days to receive.

For health care providers, the state offers much of the same information, but also some details about documentation and patient eligibility.

The state Family Support Division will begin determining the Medicaid eligibility of Missouri residents who may not yet be aware that they can receive benefits. The state is coordinating an outreach program to inform these people of their options.

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