KY3 political reporter David Catanese asked Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, about the provision in federal health care legislation that would expand Medicaid to either 133 percent or 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
Gov. Jay Nixon announced that David Kerr will serve as the director of the Department of Economic Development.
Kerr, who formerly served as the Commerce Secretary for the state of Kansas, will be the permanent replacement for Linda Martinez. Martinez, a St. Louis attorney, resigned earlier this year.
has an impressive resume of success as both the leader of a state economic
development agency and in the private sector as a top executive with one of the
largest telecommunications companies in the country," Nixon said in a statement.
“His experience will be a great asset to Missouri in the competition to
attract and retain the good-paying jobs that will make the best use of our
highly skilled, trained workforce.”
Nixon's press release also contained a quote from Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, adding that he is looking
forward "to Director Kerr being an important part of the bipartisan effort by
Gov. Nixon and the General Assembly to build a robust economic climate in
The Missouri Senate will have to confirm Kerr's nomination.
One Senate version of the health care bill would push the minimum eligibility rate to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. The feds would pick up most of the cost. But the House unveiled a new version of its health care bill today that would make the minimum rate 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
Details are still filtering in about how much the expansion would cost the state. Scott Rowson, a spokesman at the Missouri Department of Social Services, said the agency does not have a cost estimate on the House proposal yet. He said that the move would add roughly 291,000 people to the state's Medicaid program.
It should be noted that the final cost of the provision to the state probably won't be known until a final bill is passed and signed into law. Even if the House passed a bill that, say, made states pay for 40 percent of the expansion, that could be taken out when the House and Senate bills are combined later on in the process.
At least one member of Missouri's congressional delegation is speaking out against the expansion provision. Paul Sloca, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, sent the following e-mailed statement:
a time when states all across the country are being forced to make difficult
decisions to balance their budgets, the powers that be in Washington have
deemed it necessary to pass the mother of all unfunded mandates unto the
states. This is wrong. The federal government should not be forcing
states to expand services they simply cannot afford.”
Sloca also wrote that according to a Democratic summary produced by the Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce and
Education and Labor committees, the expansion would be paid for by the feds for the first couple of years. After that, states would have to pick up 9 percent of the expansion.
By the way, this is what Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said about the issue earlier in the year. She indicated that expanding Medicaid to 133 percent of the federal poverty level would make it harder for the bill to stay "deficit neutral:"
I am by no means a fan of either the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox. I think the squads showcase everything that's wrong with baseball. But I have a rather irrational way of showing allegiance. And that's the main reason why I want the Bronx Bombers to obliterate the Philadelphia Phillies.
You see, the Phillies beat my beloved Tampa Bay Rays last year. Sure, I like the Chicago White Sox more than the Devil Rays. But this was probably the only chance in history for the usually floundering franchise to succeed. And the fact that a Philadelphia team beat them to the ground? Well, I just can't accept that.
So in short, go Yankees. Destroy the Phillies. It's for the greater good.
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder stepped up criticism of the federal health care legislation today, warning that a provision forcing the state to raise Medicaid eligibility could cause a budgetary calamity.
The federal health care debate is a monstrous and constantly evolving process. But one provision that has a strong chance of being in a final bill is a requirement for states to include all adults above 133 percent of the federal poverty level in Medicaid. Missouri's current eligibility rates are much lower than that number.
Based on the bill that came out of the Senate Finance Committee earlier this month, the federal government would pick up most of the expansion's cost. But states, such as Missouri, would have to pay a percentage of the increase.
Republicans - and some Democratic governors - have spoken out against the proposal. Kinder cited Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen's opposition in the video below:
Scott Rowson, a spokesman with the Department of Social Services, said that number cited in the letter was an accurate estimate based on the provision's parameters in August. He said a new estimate taken earlier this month based off the Senate Finance Committee's bill would put the cost at about $91 million for the state.
It should be noted, however, that the parameters of the Medicaid expansion provision are not set in stone and could change. And that figure above is predicated on whether the federal government pays for the expansion indefinitely. If the feds stop paying for the expansion, then the state would be on the hook for a whole lot more money.
Also worth noting is that the change would only go into effect if Congress actually passes health care legislation, which is not necessarily a sure thing. But most people I talked to this week agree the Medicaid provision has a strong chance of making it into the final bill.
I asked Nixon about this top and also asked if the Medicaid provision made him not sign a letter expressing support for the federal health care effort. Take a look:
It's not a terribly surprising development. The first-term chief executive has been strongly supportive about limiting campaign contributions for years. He often cites a U.S. Supreme Court case that he handled that allowed limited contributions in the Show Me State. Other Democratic lawmakers - such as House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, D-Independence, and Rep. Jason Kander, D-Kansas City - have also called for the restoration of limits.
I discussed the pros and cons of the current campaign finance system in last week's KBIA commentary. So I won't rehash those arguments here. But it's worth reiterating that the change LeVota, Kander and Nixon want have a very slim chance of passing through the legislature.
- A hypothetical vote could be close in the Missouri House, where several Republicans broke ranks and voted against repealing limits in 2008. The bill only passed 84-71 in 2008, a time when Republicans had a bigger majority than today. Whether that bill is ever allowed to see the light of the day is an open question, but it's not impossible.
- Any bill to reinstate limits would almost certainly falter in the Senate. For starters, the sponsor of the 2008 repeal - Sen. Charlie Shields - is now the Senate President Pro Tem. That gives him power to direct bills to committees. It's not out of the question that Shields would drop the bill into a legislative abyss. The Star's follow up story pretty much showcased this likelihood.
- But let's say a senator tries to attach campaign finance limits onto a bill. Only one Republican senator - Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles - voted against the measure in 2008.
- Three Democrats who are still senators - Senate Minority Leader Victor Callahan, D-Independence, Sen. Tim Green, D-Spanish Lake, and Sen. Ryan McKenna, D-Jefferson County - voted for repealing the limits in 2008. The two other Democrats who affirmed the current system were replaced with Republicans who would likely vote against repealing limits. One of the Democratic "no" votes - Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia - was replaced last election cycle with a Republican.
The point is that legislative enactment of campaign finance limits this session is unlikely. And even if the Democrats take back the Missouri House, the likely Republican hold of the Missouri Senate makes a reenactment difficult to imagine.
If proponents of a limited system want to achieve their goal, it will most likely be through the initiative petition process.