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Mo. House Committee Kicks Off Series Of Medicaid Hearings

A series of hearings by state lawmakers into Missouri's Medicaid system has begun.

The interim House Committee on Medicaid Transformation spent much of the first day Thursday looking at proposed changes in Arkansas and Iowa, which would include expanding access to private health insurers and rewarding healthy behavior.  Sidney Watson is a law professor at St. Louis University who also advocates for improved access to Medicaid.  She told the committee more about the waiver Iowa is seeking from the federal government.

"There is a monthly payment that people have to make, and to me that looks like a premium," Watson said.  "It will be waived if you meet some wellness criteria.  If you don't pay that, you do lose your benefits -- there's a 60-day grace period, and after that you lose coverage."

Committee chairman Jay Barnes (R, Jefferson City) sponsored a similar proposal this year that died in the Missouri House.

"I think it's helpful to allow states to increase cost sharing," Barnes said.  "(We) heard some talk today about, 'well, some people might not pay, and then what happens?'  Well, other people will."

Barnes also told committee members from both parties that any new Medicaid proposals should be submitted before October 15th.  Several more meetings are planned in October and November.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio /

Copyright 2013 St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.