GOVERNOR TO SEEK MEDICAID ELIGIBILITY EXPANSION
Gov. Jay Nixon on Nov. 29 announced he will push for expanding Medicaid eligibility requirements in Missouri so that the state can receive additional funding from the federal government under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. During stops in Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield touting the plan, Nixon said he will include the additional federal funding in his proposed state budget for the 2014 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Nixon will present his budget proposal to the General Assembly in January.
Under the federal health care law, if states expand their Medicaid eligibility threshold to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which translates to an annual income of about $31,800 for a family of four, the federal government will pay the full cost of expansion for three years. Starting in 2017, states would have to pay 5 percent of the expansion, with their share gradually increasing over the next three years before topping out at 10 percent in 2020.
It is estimated that at least 161,000 additional Missourians – perhaps substantially more — would qualify for Medicaid under the expansion. In addition to the benefits of more Missourians having access to health care, a study issued on Nov. 28 by the University of Missouri on behalf of the Missouri Hospitals Association estimated that the new federal money invested in the state would create 24,000 new jobs.
Representatives of the hospitals association and other state medical organizations have joined Nixon in supporting Medicaid expansion. Leaders of the Republican-controlled General Assembly, however, have said they oppose Medicaid expansion.
SUPREME COURT HEARS ARGUMENTS ON STL DEVELOPMENT
The Missouri Supreme Court on Nov. 28 heard arguments on whether developer Paul McKee’s plan for redeveloping a large swath of north St. Louis is specific enough to qualify for $390 million in local tax subsidies. McKee is asking the court to reverse St. Louis Circuit Judge Robert Dierker’s 2010 ruling that the St. Louis city ordinance granting tax increment financing for the project was too vague to comply with the state law.
McKee has been pursuing the $8 billion Northside project for more than five years. In addition to the local tax subsidies, the General Assembly in 2007 granted McKee up to $100 million in state tax breaks merely for acquiring the land for the development, some of which McKee has already collected, even though construction on the project has yet to begin.
Four residents of the development area challenged the city’s TIF ordinance for failing to meet state statutory requirements. On appeal, McKee and the city claim the circuit court construed state law too narrowly is declaring a more specific development plan is necessary for the project to qualify for TIF. The case is Bonzella Smith, et al., v. City of St. Louis, et al. The court will issue a ruling at a later date.