JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After the Missouri House decided not to fund Medicaid expansion last week, lawmakers on the House Budget Committee now have to use those funds elsewhere.
The voter-approved measure was passed in August and goes into effect July 1, but Representatives did not approve the funding for expansion in the nearly $35 billion state budget. The House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith (R-Carthage) moved funding for the expansion into a separate piece of legislation.
Now, under House Bill 21, the budget committee is dispersing $1 billion over a handful of state agencies, with nearly $900 million coming from the federal government and $100 million from the state’s general revenue fund.
The legislation states $18 million would go to school transportation, $2 million for adult high schools, $26 million for home-delivered meals and programs like adult daycare, $88 million to nursing homes, and $735 for Medicaid reimbursements.
Another agency that would receive money is Missouri’s Office of State Public Defenders for the public defender system. More than $1 million would help the department hire 15 additional attorneys for parole.
Executive Director of the commission Mary Fox testified in front of the committee saying this would give additional lawyers to trial offices.
“We’re asking for only three additional attorneys so that their numbers will stay reasonable and that we will not have to put anyone on a waitlist or go to a court and say to the court we cannot handle every eligible case,” Fox said.
Fox said there are 33 trial offices in the state.
Before House Bill 21, the system is receiving an additional 12 attorneys under the governor’s budget. Right now, Fox said there are around 2,000 people on the waitlist in Missouri that need a trial lawyer.
Smith said during the hearing, there will be more discussion about House Bill 21 later in the week.
As for funding Medicaid expansion, the Senate still has to debate and pass the state budget. Senators could still add the funding for expansion back in.
Last week, Gov. Mike Parson said he’s depending on the Senate to fund Medicaid expansion.