Health Care Cuts

The Medicaid Block Grant; Who Will Suffer?

The Medicaid Block Grant; Who Will Suffer?

Assault on Medicaid – The Block Grant Edition

By Lexi Amos, Parent advocate for children’s rights
Published in Missouri Autism Report, March/April 2017 edition

In January, Missouri Senator David Slater (District 29: serving Barry, Lawrence, McDonald, Stone, and Taney Counties) introduced a bill that would change the financial structure of Missouri Medicaid (Mo HealthNet) into a dangerous block grant system.

Missouri’s current Medicaid program is a partnership between the state and federal governments, funded partially by the federal government and partially by the state of Missouri. For every dollar that Missouri spends, the federal government spends $1.72. In the current system, if the cost of providing Medicaid services is more than expected, the federal government provides assistance to the state.  The current funding system accounts for events such as epidemics, economic downturns, and natural or man-made disasters –  all possible reasons a state might exceed their expected Medicaid costs.

A block grant system would drastically change the funding structure of Medicaid. Under a block grant, the federal government provides only a pre-set amount of funding for our state’s Medicaid program. If Missouri’s Medicaid program exceeds our federal funding, our state is responsible for all of the excess costs. This would require our state government to either increase taxes to cover the healthcare costs or limit the coverage and services available to Medicaid participants.

Jen Bersdale, Executive Director of the patient advocacy group Missouri Health Care for All, said “Senate Bill 28, as currently written, would hand complete control of our state’s Medicaid program over to a small administrative committee with no actual accountability to voters”. And legal experts Joel Ferber and Geoff Oliver, with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, found that 243,000 to 357,000 Medicaid recipients would lose coverage under a Medicaid block grant.Block Grants & CPP WHO LOSES UNDER SB28-

We know how important disability Medicaid is to the lifetime success of many people with disabilities, and we must work with our legislature to ensure that Medicaid is a sustainable assistance program well into the future. However, a block grant is not the solution we are looking for. By changing the current federal-state cost share to a block grant program Missourians are providing a “legal” avenue of denying medical coverage to people who qualify and depend on government assistance programs.

In our state’s difficult economic climate, it is unlikely our state government will raise taxes or other revenue to cover the funding gaps a Medicaid block grant would cause. It is much more likely that integral services would no longer be covered, care would be rationed, and hundreds of thousands of Missourians would be completely cut off from Mo HealthNet. Bottom line, if we are not diligent in monitoring and protecting our access to quality health care and safety net systems, our elected officials may dismantle the programs our families and neighbors depend on.

If you would like to get involved and share how block grants would affect you or people you care about please contact Crystal Brigman Mahaney, with Missouri Healthcare for All at 417-693-5690 or email at crystal@mohealthcareforall.org.

Posted by MHCFA in MHCFA Blog, State Updates, 0 comments

We’re bringing the town hall to Senator Blunt this Saturday morning

Do our elected representatives care about our health care?

Debbie speaking out at Blunt's officeThis week is Congressional recess – meaning our elected officials have left their DC offices to join us, their constituents, back home in our home districts. Across the country members of Congress are holding public town halls to hear from their constituents.

Currently, US Senator Roy Blunt has yet to schedule public meetings, so we’re accommodating his schedule and bringing the town hall to him!

Springfield Street Town Hall & Save Our Care Rally
When: Saturday, February 25th from 6:30 AM – 8:30 AM
Where: In front of University Plaza Hotel, 333 S John Q Hammons Pkwy Springfield, 65806
Why: Our DC delegation needs to hear from us, their constituents, about how the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and health policy impacts our health, our lives and our communities.
RSVP: https://www3.thedatabank.com/dpg/616/mtglistproc.asp?formid=calendar&caleventid=1826

Health Care remembranceSenator Blunt will be speaking at the Lincoln Days’ breakfast Saturday morning. We’re joining forces with concerned citizens to rally early in the morning – 6:30 AM – to share our stories and show Senator Blunt that we need to talk about health care.

What else?

We know this is early – so be sure to dress warmly – but know you won’t be alone! Bring your stories, your passion, your friends, and we’ll bring the coffee and extra signs to spread our message.

We know stories matter – bring a photo of a loved one or your reasons why health care matters so much to your life and our families. We’re going to show the strength of our voices and our concerns.

Posted by MHCFA in MHCFA Blog
Senate Bill 28 on the move. Act now to save Medicaid.

Senate Bill 28 on the move. Act now to save Medicaid.

All session we have kept you updated on a dangerous bill – Senate Bill 28. Grassroots pressure from supporters like you stopped this dangerous bill in its tracks once.

We’re at the point in session when bills turn into amendments to move through the process. We must remain diligent and we need you to take action again – now.

P.S. Here’s a reminder of what’s at stake:

Senate Bill 28 seeks to drastically change our Missouri Medicaid program by seeking a “block grant”.

The impact of Medicaid block grants or per capita caps:

  • Deep cuts to Missouri’s federal funding for Medicaid, ripping health care from kids, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and older adults
  • Financial risk to the state of Missouri

 

Posted by MHCFA in MHCFA Blog
Missouri Legislature Overrides SB608: Adds fees & penalties to Medicaid

Missouri Legislature Overrides SB608: Adds fees & penalties to Medicaid

We are deeply disappointed that the Missouri House & Senate have narrowly voted to override the Governor’s veto of SB608, a dangerous bill that sought to punish Missourians on Medicaid for ER use and missed appointments.. These penalties & fees have been shown to hurt health.

We thank the Senators and Representatives who spoke against the override, noting the real life circumstances many Medicaid recipients face, and the need to increase access to health care, not put up more barriers.

We are deeply disappointed to report that the Missouri House and Senate narrowly voted to override Governor Nixon’s veto. SB608 will become law.

Medicaid connects thousands of Missouri families to health care they would otherwise not be able to afford. SB608 will penalize Medicaid patients with unaffordable co-pays, more Missourians will put off needed medical care, and their health will suffer.

We are continuing to fight back against this bad policy. Over the coming months, we will push the state of Missouri to reduce the harm to low income patients. We will need your help to protect Missouri’s most vulnerable and will reach out when it is time to act.

As always, we will let you know when we need you to take action and stand up for the health of Missourians.

Thank you for taking action and supporting our movement.

Posted by MHCFA in MHCFA Blog, State Updates, 0 comments
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.”

# # #

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