House Democrats say Missouri is in 'Medicaid enrollment crisis'
JEFFERSON CITY - Medicaid enrollment in Missouri has both lawmakers and citizens concerned.
The state has dropped more than 120,000 people from Medicaid, with House Democrats calling the decline a "Medicaid enrollment crisis" in a news release to KOMU 8 News. More than 90,000 of the people dropped were children.
"We found out about a month ago, right before the public, that because the custodial parent was kicked off, the children were being kicked off at the same time," State Rep. Deb Lavender (D-90) said.
But, Governor Mike Parson has said the decline in Medicaid users was due to an improving economy.
However, House Minority floor leader Crystal Quade, D-132, wrote a letter to Republican House Speaker Elijah Haahr. In the letter, she said the decline had little to do with the economy.
"The decline stems from issues with the re-enrollment process," Quade wrote.
Republican Rep. David Wood said this enrollment issue is not only the state's fault. He said parents need to take responsibility for their children.
"They could have turned around and re-applied to have their children re-enrolled in Medicaid, even though they did not," he said.
Erika Daniels, a mother from Holts Summit, said, "You can keep re-enrolling and re-applying, but if the office isn't being receptive, you can only do so much."
Daniels said her daughter no longer qualified for Medicaid once her husband got a job with the state. She said her family was given two weeks notice of her daughter's removal.
"I think it's time for Missouri, who's made a mistake in kicking these kids off to automatically re-enroll these children," Lavender said. "Why we're asking the parents to pick up for our mistake doesn't make sense to me."
Wood said the program does need some changes.
"There should be better notification," he said. "There should be easier applications. There's a lot of things we can improve on."
During a press conference, Democrats outlined two House bills to combat the gap in enrollment.
One of the bills would guarantee 12 months of MOHealthNet coverage, the state's Medicaid.
The second would give families 30 days, instead of 10 days, to return paperwork.
Among the bipartisan steps being taken to combat the issue is House Bill 1960, filed by state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold. HB 1960 would streamline the process of applying for Medicaid, as well as other public assistance programs such as SNAP, TANF and child-care assistance.
Quade also said she will be filing legislation to "emphasize that the eligibility of every person in a family receiving Medicaid must be individually verified."
State Auditor Nicole Galloway called the decline "outrageous and scandalous."
"We are not out to take people off medicaid who qualify, but there has to be a responsibility," Wood said.
Quade urged anyone with concerns to reach out to their state representatives for help.