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Missouri House Democrats Talk Medicaid Expansion, 2020 Legislative Agenda

Quade in healthcare press conference on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020
Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications
In a press conference on Jan. 27, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade laid out the Democrats' health care agenda for the 2020 legislative session.

Democrats in the Missouri House say they’re confident voters will approve Medicaid expansion, and they want to strengthen other health care measures in 2020. 

In a press conference Monday, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said the need for Missouri to expand Medicaid is vital, despite Republican efforts to kill the idea. 

“Since 2014, no fewer than seven rural hospitals have closed,” Quade said, “in no small part because the governor and Republicans have refused to expand Medicaid.” 

In Gov. Mike Parson’s State of the State address two weeks ago, he celebrated what he called cost savings for the state’s Medicaid program. He said that the program “has been broken for many years,” but that under the leadership of Director Todd Richardson there’s a new level of accountability. 

“The result has been a savings of $84 million, further protecting citizens who need the services most and taxpayers who deserve their tax dollars be used wisely,” Parson said. 

Since the beginning of 2018, more than 100,000 children have been removed from the state’s Medicaid rolls, which is the largest drop in the country. 

Quade said outside of Medicaid expansion, the party will be working to ensure children have easier access to health care. 

“One of the things we’ve heard from providers in the field that would help with this situation is continuous eligibility for our children,” she said.

State Rep. Sarah Unsicker, D-Shrewsbury, filed a measure that would provide children who qualify for Medicaid to remain eligible for a full year despite a change in parental employment. Quade said 24 other states have similar laws in place. 

“One of the big things we see are families who might have seasonal employment where their employment goes up and down and have kiddos who then lose their coverage,” she said.

Other health issues

State Rep. LaDonna Appelbaum, D-St. Louis County, is working to require teachers to complete two hours of suicide prevention training in an effort to reduce the suicide rate among children and teens. 

“Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for our children 12 to 18 years old,” she said. “Teachers see these kids almost every day, and they may notice that they have changed in behaviors, but they may not know how to react.” 

The measure filed would require all teachers, principals and licensed educators to complete training on suicide prevention as part of their mandated continued education. 

Once again, Democrats are also fighting to pass a statewide prescription drug-monitoring program. Missouri is the only state in the nation without one. The proposal has passed the House in years past, but has failed to gain enough support in the Senate.

Follow Jaclyn on Twitter: @DriscollNPR

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Jaclyn is the Jefferson City statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.