Medicaid eligibility could expand for people with disabilities, elderly

Thousands of Missourians who are elderly or living with a disability may become eligible for Medicaid coverage over the next few years, if Gov. Jay Nixon signs a bill passed by the legislature that raises asset limits for the first time in nearly 50 years.

Existing law from 1967 requires individuals to have less than $1,000 in savings to qualify for coverage, in addition to a home or car. Income limits also apply. In practice, advocates say this forces people who are aging or disabled to spend down their assets, instead of saving for non-health related needs or emergencies.

If House Bill 1565 is signed into law, the asset limit will increase by a thousand dollars per year, starting in fiscal year 2018 and going up to $5,000 a person in fiscal year 2021. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, passed both the House and Senate. Nixon has until mid-July to approve it or file a veto.

Legislative researchers estimate the new rules would add about 10,000 Missourians to the state’s Medicaid program through fiscal year 2022, at a cost of $45 million when fully implemented.

Read more: St. Louis Public Radio

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