Month: July 2016

Nixon approves measure to raise asset limits

Nixon approves measure to raise asset limits

Nixon approves measure to raise asset limits

Via our partners and disability advocates at Paraquad

Please note this blog was originally created and posted by Paraquad, read the original post here: http://www.paraquad.org/blog/nixon-approves-measure-increase-asset-limits/

June 9, 2016

Gov. Jay NixonBy KEVIN CONDONGov. Jay Nixon, D-Mo., on Thursday signed into law House Bill 1565, which updates an asset limit measure that is more than 40 years old and allows people with disabilities to retain Medicaid benefits and save for unexpected expenses.

The bill, which Nixon signed at Paraquad, increases the amount of money that people receiving Medicaid coverage can claim as assets. Starting in 2018, the dollar amount increases to $2,000 (from $1,000) for an individual, and to $4,000 (from $2,000) for a couple. Each following year, until 2022, the amounts will increase by $1,000, reaching $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a couple. Annual increases after 2022 will be tied to cost of living adjustments.

Missouri began participating in the Medicaid program in the late 1960s.

“This legislation is long overdue and it helps to correct a flaw in the system,” said Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, the bill’s sponsor. “By raising the asset limits, we are removing a significant disincentive for the elderly and people with disabilities to be prepared for expenses they may incur.”

Aimee Wehmeier, President and CEO of Paraquad, explained how low asset limits in Missouri have historically compelled people with significant disabilities to make difficult decisions.

“Essentially, we had to choose between saving money and accessing necessary disability-related supports and services,” Wehmeier said. “In the past, being fiscally responsible and saving money meant losing Medicaid benefits, including health care, personal care services and reimbursements for durable medical equipment.”

Many people with significant disabilities utilize personal care services to help get out bed, prepare for work, cook meals and complete household tasks.

“Without these vital services, we would not be able to work or live independently,” Wehmeier said. “And without the ability to save money, we are not prepared for future health needs or personal emergencies.”

Seeing HB 1565 through to signing was a top priority for Paraquad and its allies and advocates around the state, according to Cathy Brown, Paraquad’s Director of Public Policy and Advocacy.

“People with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty as any other minority population,” said Brown. “When a person with a disability needs access to services that are only available publicly, he or she must often times get — and stay — as poor as possible for as long as possible. Our system inadvertently creates dependence instead of maximizing the independence of beneficiaries. Changes like the asset limit increase move us closer toward a system that encourages maximum economic self-sufficiency.”

Brown described the signing of HB 1566 as a big win for the disability community.

“It addresses a key barrier to economic self-sufficiency. People want to build a better future for themselves and reduce reliance on government programs and charity. Ensuring people have the capacity to save more of their own money to meet financial obligations helps them do that,” said Brown. “We thank Governor Nixon, Representative Engler and all of the legislators who saw the many benefits of allowing working Missourians to increase their savings while still being able to access necessary services.”

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About Paraquad: Founded in 1970, Paraquad is the leading disability services provider in the St. Louis region. One of the oldest Centers for Independent Living in the country, Paraquad’s mission is to empower people with disabilities to increase their independence through choice and opportunity. A key focus is to make St. Louis more accessible for all people by advocating, building awareness and delivering comprehensive services.

Contacts:
Kevin Condon
kcondon@paraquad.org
(314) 289-4348 or (314) 805-1556

Jacob Kuerth
jkuerth@paraquad.org
(314) 289-4371 or (314) 957-8364

Posted by MHCFA in MHCFA Blog, State Updates, 0 comments
Rate Review signed into law

Rate Review signed into law

Governor Jay Nixon signs Health Insurance Rate Review

Missouri Health Care for All cheers steps to protect Missouri consumers

Missouri Health Care for All (MHCFA) applauds the July 5th signing of SB865 which finally allows Missouri’s Department of Insurance to review insurance rates filed by health insurance companies, and to determine if the rates are reasonable.

Missouri Health Care for All’s Executive Director, Jen Bersdale, explains the significance of this issue: “Until now, Missouri has been the only state in the country where our Department of Insurance has no authority to review or publish the premiums being charged by health insurance companies. Without this basic transparency, consumers have no way of determining whether the rates they are being charged are fair.”

Professor Sidney Watson, the Jane and Bruce Robert Professor of Law at Saint Louis University’s Center for Health Law Studies and a Missouri Health Care for All Board Member, points out that Missouri families are suffering under high premiums, especially in certain parts of the state. “Our analysis of plans being sold in the Health Insurance Marketplace determined that while rates have risen an average of 6% nationally over the last two years, they have risen 24% in Missouri. In addition, rates are significantly different across Missouri, with consumers paying as much as $100 more each month in Hannibal and West Plains than they would in St. Louis or Kansas City. Rate review would help us shed light on the reasons for these variances and what we can do to address them.”

Sarah Gentry, Policy Director with Missouri Health Care for All, lauds the bipartisan coalition that propelled rate review to passage. “There were rate review bills sponsored by Reps. Charlie Davis (R – Webb City), Bill White (R – Joplin), and Margo McNeill (D – St. Louis County). We were delighted to work together with all three representatives to advance this issue, and we applaud them for their leadership and collaboration.”

Crystal Brigman Mahaney, MHCFA’s Deputy Director, notes that grassroots supporters from across the state have spoken out in support of rate review for years. “Our members understand that transparency is the first step to bringing down the high cost of premiums for Missouri families. Hundreds of Missouri Health Care for All supporters voiced their support for rate review by calling, e-mailing and meeting with their legislators, as well as by writing letters to the editor and educating their friends and neighbors.”

Read the Governor’s full statement on SB865 here: http://on.mo.gov/29lFnvr

Posted by MHCFA in MHCFA Blog, State Updates, 0 comments
Dangerous Medicaid Fees Vetoed!

Dangerous Medicaid Fees Vetoed!

On Tuesday, July 5th, Governor Nixon vetoed SB608, a dangerous bill that sought to penalize Medicaid patients with unaffordable co-pays for using the Emergency Room.

We echo Governor Nixon’s sentiments that “Senate Bill 608 would needlessly punish our state’s most vulnerable citizens without improving access to care or bringing Missourians’ tax dollars back to Missouri.”

Research shows that charging co-pays in Medicaid leads people to skip the care they need.

SB608 would have added burdens to Missouri’s struggling families, who would have found it harder and more expensive to get health care.

Vetoing SB608 sends a strong message that adding barriers to Missouri families who are already struggling is not the way to increase access to health care.

Governor Nixon went on to emphasize the need to close Missouri’s Coverage Gap for our 300,000 uninsured neighbors rather than “gouging the poor while continuing to send our tax dollars to other states.”

Read Governor Nixon’s full statement on the veto herehttp://on.mo.gov/29oh1z

 

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