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Mo. House Speaker Announces Formation Of Two Committees On Medicaid

Tim Bommel, Mo. House Communications

Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones on Thursday formally announced the creation of two interim committees that will look at ways to reform the state's Medicaid system.

One committee, the Citizens and Legislators Working Group on Medicaid Eligibility and Reform, will have House members and selected citizens team up to research ways to improve Medicaid.  They will then hand off their findings to the House Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation, which will make recommendations for next year's legislative session.  Jones says they're taking a thorough approach to fixing a broken system.

"Medicaid (and) Social Services take up a third of our state's budget," Jones said.  "I think it's wise to have more eyes and hands working on the issue, and more diverse interests across the state rather than less."

Jones also told reporters that the Medicaid system is severely broken, and that it must be fixed before any type of expansion can be considered.

"If we dump hundreds of thousands of additional uninsured people into that system, and give them a magical plastic card and simply say, 'well, now you have free heath care,' we will further drive an already broken system into a bankrupt state," Jones said.

The citizen/legislator working group will be chaired by State Representative Noel Torpey (R, Independence) and the transformation interim committee will be chaired by State Representative Jay Barnes (R, Jefferson City).  Barnes sponsored a proposal during the regular session that would have paired reforms with a small expansion of Medicaid.

Meanwhile, the Missouri Senate has also formed an interim committee to examine Medicaid, and a bill awaiting Governor Jay Nixon's signature would give him the authority to appoint a joint Medicaid committee made up of both House and Senate members.  Republican lawmakers rebuffed efforts by Democrats to expand Medicaid during this year's regular session.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

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