Sen. Mike Bernskoetter’s Legislative Column for Oct. 21, 2021

Improving Accountability in Missouri’s Medicaid Program

One of the biggest costs to Missouri is the state’s Medicaid program, also known as MO HealthNet. The program covers qualified medical expenses for eligible Missourians, including those with low incomes or with disabilities, and takes up about a third of the state’s annual operating budget. With billions of dollars being spent each year on MO HealthNet, it’s important to ensure Missouri taxpayers are getting their money’s worth out of the program.

Helping investigate this issue is the Senate Interim Committee on Medicaid Accountability and Taxpayer Protection. As the name implies, this committee has been tasked with conducting an extensive study of the state’s Medicaid program and making recommendations to improve its efficiency, as well as determining if taxpayer dollars are being spent in a manner that protects the unborn and reflects the values of Missourians.

On Oct. 20, the committee held what is likely its final hearing of the year. While earlier meetings focused on reproductive services and protecting the sanctity of life, this hearing largely centered on improving accountability, transparency and efficiency of the MO HealthNet program. Legislators heard a number of suggestions from representatives from managed health care groups, the Missouri Foundation for Health, the Missouri Hospital Association, the Department of Social Services and others.

Many of their comments focused on improving technology and making better use of program data. Federal COVID-19 relief funding may be available to improve the state’s systems and help it work better for Missourians in need. Likewise, improving access to the program’s data could not only empower consumers to make more informed decisions about their health care options, but also provide lawmakers and regulators with key insights to help improve the program even more.

At the end of the day, these suggestions are meant to help MO HealthNet better serve Missourians and improve health outcomes. I look forward to working with my colleagues during the next legislative session to implement the committee’s recommendations.

As always, it is an honor to serve the 6th Senatorial District. If my office can be service to you, please feel free to contact us at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at