Missouri Minute: Medicaid expansion funds eyed for other uses; eviction moratorium extended

Hello, MBA readers,

Following last week’s vote by a Missouri House committee to reject funding for Medicaid expansion, House Republicans are looking to spend state money that could support Medicaid expansion on other budget items. Voters approved a constitutional amendment last year expanding Medicaid access in the state, so Missouri could add upwards of 250,000 people to its Medicaid rolls on July 1 without a boost in funding to support that increase. Also in Jefferson City, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is suing over part of the new $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package. The lawsuit challenges a provision in the legislation that prohibits states receiving federal pandemic funds from introducing tax cuts offset by that money. And, in other news of the federal response to COVID-19, the Biden administration has extended an eviction moratorium that was set to expire this week. Tenants behind on rent payments because of the pandemic now have until June before evictions can be enforced.

Stay alert

Mass vaccination planned for St. Louis stadium 
The state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will administer up to 168,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in eight weeks at the Dome at America’s Center, significantly increasing vaccine access in the city. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Biden administration extends eviction moratorium 
The moratorium for tenants who have fallen behind on rent payments because of the pandemic has been extended through the end of June. (Associated Press)

Missouri becomes first state to sue over American Rescue Plan tax cut penalty
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s ability to reduce COVID-19 relief funding to states that pass tax cuts offset by that pandemic aid. (Missouri Independent)

St. Louis voters to decide on sewer project funding
Proposition Y on the April 6 ballot will determine how improvements to the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District will be funded. The district requires $1.58 billion of upgrades over four years to eliminate sewer overflows and improve water quality. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

State vaccine website hampered by inconsistencies 
Months after COVID-19 vaccine rollout began, Missouri’s website for tracking vaccinations continues to show dramatic swings in data, raising questions about its accuracy.(Missouri Independent)

St. Louis health systems flout part of price transparency rule
SSM Health and Mercy Hospital have not fully adhered to a new federal rule that requires hospitals provide clear, accessible information online about their services and prices. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Kansas City Council eyes steps to boost affordable housing
Two council members have introduced a measure that would give City Manager Brian Platt four months to devise a plan for developing or rehabilitating 5,000 housing units for low-income residents. (Kansas City Business Journal)

KC considers zoning changes to allow more outdoor dining
A city order allowed bars and restaurants to expand seating to parking lots and other outdoor areas to accommodate social distancing. Now, the city is considering an ordinance to allow that permanently. (WDAF)

BurkHill Real Estate signs new tenants after $100 million investment 
The St. Louis real estate investment fund has more than 30 new tenants signed or pending for 15 properties in Chesterfield despite office vacancies in the area increasing more than 2 percentage points in the fourth quarter. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Go figure

$128 million

Missouri House Republicans are planning to spend $128 million that would have funded the state’s piece of Medicaid expansion costs this year on other programs, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Voters last year approved a constitutional amendment to expand Medicaid access to an estimated 250,000 more Missourians, but Republican legislators have balked at funding the health insurance program for low-income individuals, citing financial concerns. Experts say the state could face a legal battle if lawmakers decide not to fund expansion, the Columbia Missourian reports. However, the language of the amendment requires only that the program is expanded, not that it receive additional funding. That could mean the state’s Medicaid rolls grow by about 25% in the next fiscal year without corresponding increases in budget, resulting in less comprehensive health care for Missourians who depend on Medicaid.

Say that again

“We used to be able to supply orders every two weeks, and now we’re four weeks to two months, and that’s just too long. If someone passes away, they don’t wait a month to bury them.”

That’s Jerry Eason, owner of the Missouri Casket Co., discussing the increased demand for coffins during the last year, the Springfield Business Journal reports. The Seymour business is “overcome with orders,” Eason said, and it’s facing shortages of the raw materials it uses to make the caskets and urns it sells to funeral homes in 34 states. During the pandemic, businesses all along the supply chain have been affected by material and labor shortages amid an uptick in demand, and Eason estimates his business has missed out on 400 casket sales so far this year.

Hello, my name is

Heartland Developer Challenge 

This new augmented reality and virtual reality challenge aims to find and apply solutions to real-world problems. The event is hosted by KC Digital Drive, an organization established to make Kansas City a leader in digital technology. The challenge kicks off with a virtual workshop Tuesday, during which developers will form teams for the their projects. Three of those teams will receive $1,500 to support their ideas. A hackathon will follow in May, with up to $15,000 in prizes available. The challenge culminates in a demo day in August. Organizers say they hope the challenge brings together people who otherwise might not connect and lets them address problems with AR and VR technology, Startland News reports.


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