JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill to restore some of the Medicaid cuts from last year's legislative session.
"We took a program that was literally bankrupting the state, costing us a quarter of a billion dollars and we had to get rid of it last year," said the bill's sponsor Charles Portwood, a Republican from Ballwin. "This year we created a program that meets those needs and now its going to cover 3,200 people who work and that are disabled."
The bill, entitled Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities, would affect any "employed disabled person requesting medical assistance whose family gross income is less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level."
Democrats attempted to add an amendment to the bill to lower the premium on health care for those affected by this bill, but the motion failed.
"At the very least, we could have adopted a proposed premium cap of four percent of recipient's income, which is the average of what state legislators pay in premiums for their taxpayer-funded health insurance," said Judy Baker, D-Columbia, in a written statement. "In this bill, however, we are asking these low-income disabled workers to pay premiums of 7.5 percent. This seems hypocritical."
Opponents of House Bill 1742 argue that the action is insufficient, citing that though governor says the state has the money, the legislature still declines to go further.
"Are we going to continue to break the backs of our seniors and disabled?" Rep. Maria Chapelle-Nadal, D-University City, asked on the House floor, before a vote was taken. "When you go back to your districts, if you vote against this amendment (to lower premiums), make sure you tell your senior citizens and disabled that you voted for them to have a higher premium than you yourself have," she said. "You vote against this, your seniors and people with disabilities will know that you generally don't have their welfare in mind."
A similar bill, SB 1049, is working its way through the Missouri Senate.