Legislative Column for the Week of Feb. 12, 2015
Keeping MO HealthNet in Missouri

This week, the Senate gave its final approval to Senate Bill 35 and sent it to the House with absolutely no amendments. The bill would require the Department of Social Services to terminate MO HealthNet services when it receives information a recipient resides out of state, resulting in the prevention of residents from other states collecting benefits from Missouri.

This bill would also allow the family support division to make the decision to determine if someone is an eligible participant or if benefits should be terminated. In other words, foster children who have split addresses, but are in the custody of the state of Missouri, will remain covered. This would apply to children whose parents live in different states. If the parent with primary custody resides in Missouri, the child would still remain covered.

This is common sense legislation that saves taxpayers money, and is aimed at making sure Missouri’s money stays with its citizens. There are eight states surrounding Missouri. We are seeing instances where Missouri residents end up becoming citizens of one of these surrounding states while continuing to receive MO HealthNet benefits.

MO HealthNet is currently responsible for ensuring only Missouri residents are receiving Medicaid benefits. However, many former residents are not getting cancelled and are still receiving these benefits. With eligibility data being produced daily, SB 35 would hold the Department of Social Services accountable for investigating the small percentage of enrollees with out-of-state addresses. Some enrollees have even told the departments’ manage centers that they have addresses from another state, yet nothing is being done to take them off the program. We must clean up eligibility data in order to help all struggling Missourians.

There are two major concerns. The most obvious involves providing benefits that Missouri taxpayers pay for to out-of-state residents, and the other being able to manage health care for someone who spends enough time in another state to call that state their state of residence. Research shows around 500 people in this managed care program would fall under this legislation and lose their benefits. This is money that Missouri is paying on non-residents that would be put toward general revenue and dispersed to other programs in need of funding.

It is the responsibility of the state to provide health care benefits for their residents. It is not Missouri taxpayers’ responsibility to pay benefits for residents of other states. This is a single step towards Medicaid reform and it is important we keep moving forward in order to work for a healthier and stronger Missouri.  

I urge you to contact me with any questions or concerns you have about state government so that I can better represent you during the 2015 Legislative Session.

Contact Me

I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You may write me at Wayne Wallingford, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101, or email at wayne.wallingford@senate.mo.gov or www.senate.mo.gov/wallingford.

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