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Medicaid expansion survives in Missouri House amendments

Monday, May 5, 2014 | 8:20 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Hope springs eternal for supporters of Medicaid expansion.

Although bills for expansion have stalled in the General Assembly, versions of the law have appeared as pending amendments on other bills.

Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, thinks if representatives debate a bill with a Medicaid expansion amendment, the expansion would pass. He estimated there are 95 votes for the measure — 13 more than needed.

Kelly has pre-filed four such amendments.

If Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, holds up Senate bills with those amendments, Kelly said it "makes (Medicaid expansion) more difficult to avoid" in the long run.

As of Monday, 10 House and Senate bills included language from one of the pro-expansion bills sponsored by Rep. Noel Torpey, R-Independence.

Kelly, Torpey and three other representatives have pre-filed Medicaid amendments. The legislators have attached expansion amendments to bills on a variety of topics, such as liquor licensing legislation. That could violate the state constitution's requirement for legislation to be about a single topic.

Rep. Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis, estimated pre-filing Medicaid expansion amendments to 10 bills. Hers is a "straight-forward" version that would enlarge the Medicaid program to the necessary 138% of the poverty level in order to qualify for federal money, she said.

Although three Republican representatives have supported Medicaid expansion, Mitten said the fate of expansion "depends on whether the majority party wants to bring it up for a vote."

Rep. Chris Molendorp, R-Belton, surprised his colleagues last week by attaching an expansion amendment to a Senate bill in the House's standing Health Insurance Committee. Molendorp said he thought the bill was the "best vehicle" for the House to pass expansion.

Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, added his own version of Medicaid expansion to three bills.

On Tuesday, faith groups from across the state plan to hold a "Rally for Dignity" to pressure lawmakers to pass expansion. They will gather at 10:30 a.m. in the Capitol rotunda.


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