KIDDIECARE: Missouri House Approves Big Medicaid Expansion For Children
Missouri's Kiddiecare program "cleared a big hurdle" Monday as the state House approved a bill to expand health insurance to up to 90,000 children. The Kansas City Star reports that "[m]inority Republicans repeatedly criticized the bill as unduly generous and offered many amendments in debate," but lawmakers finally agreed to expand "health insurance coverage for children up to age 19 by loosening eligibility rules for Missouri's Medicaid program." The bill raises "eligibility to $49,350 for a family of four, or 300% of the federal poverty level." Yesterday's vote follows House members' rejection last week of Republican efforts to pare down the eligibility expansion.
State Rep. Scott Lakin (D), the bill's sponsor, said, "This has everything to do with the children and nothing to do with income levels or assets." State Rep. Charles Shields (R) "said allowing Medicaid eligibility for families of four that made nearly $50,000 a year would be a mistake." Shields said, "We are telling people you can abdicate your responsibility to take care of your children and we will take it on." Supporters such as Alice Kitchen, director of social work and community services at Children's Mercy Hospital, noted that seniors "can generally qualify for Medicare regardless of income," adding that children "should not be treated differently than seniors." The bill "would cost about $71 million, including $51 million in federal aid" (Sentell, 5/5).