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Mo. House Democrats File Medicaid Expansion Bill

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

House Democrats are sponsoring legislation to expand Medicaid in Missouri, despite the fact that the state budget filed by Republicans leaves out the proposed expansion.

House Bill 627 would expand Medicaid to an additional 300,000 Missourians, and House Democrats say not passing it would cost the state 5,000 jobs and could force some rural hospitals to close their doors.  Kerry Noble is CEO of Pemiscot Memorial Health Systemsin the Missouri Boot-heal.

“Fourteen percent of our utilization is in uncompensated care," Noble told reporters at a press conference at the State Capitol.  "We cannot continue to subsidize this long-term.”

The bill is sponsored by House Minority Floor Leader Jacob Hummel(D, St. Louis).  He says he's willing to work with Republicans to craft some sort of compromise that would allow for Medicaid expansion.

"If we do not pass this, some of our larger hospitals will still be able to carry on, but it’s our rural hospitals that are going to close," Hummel said.  "It is our rural hospitals that’ll be hurt the most, and it is something that we simply cannot do.”

House Speaker Tim Jones (R, Eureka), meanwhile, took issue with the Democrats' comments at their press conference.

“I think it’s a little Polly-anish, I think it’s a little (of an) overreach, I think there are some scare tactics involved there," Jones said.

House Republicans are working on an alternate proposal they say will transform Medicaid without expanding it in Missouri.  One of the sponsors, State Representative Jay Barnes (R, Jefferson City), says details could be unveiled as early as next week.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.