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Two weeks before deadline, health program gets a one-year extension

Family Care Health Centers is a large, brick building in the Carondalet neighborhood.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

About 20,000 uninsured adults in St. Louis city and county will have access to basic health services for another year, after the federal government approved a one-year grant extension Tuesday. Coverage for 2015 was scheduled to expire on December 31. The measure sends up to $30 million to the Gateway to Better Health Program, which is intended as a stop-gap for people who would have been covered if the state of Missouri had expanded Medicaid. 

Gateway is not a health insurance program, but instead offers coverage for some basic services at community health clinics for low co-pays. Only residents from St. Louis city and county with incomes below the federal poverty line are eligible—about $20,100 a year for a family of three. The program’s grant comes from federal Disproportionate Share Hospital funding, a pool of money that shrinks every year.

“At some point St. Louis has to not go year-to-year on a temporary program, and figure out a long term solution for everybody,” said Rob Fruend, CEO of the St. Louis Regional Health Commission, which manages the Gateway program. “Hopefully we can come to some resolution on that next year.”