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Missouri lawmakers renew crucial $4B Medicaid tax program

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s GOP-led Legislature on Wednesday renewed a more than $4 billion Medicaid program that had been blocked for months by a Republican faction that used it as a bargaining tool.

The bill which now heads to Gov. Mike Parson will renew a longstanding tax on hospitals and other medical providers.

Money from the tax is used to draw down $2.9 billion in federal funding, which is then given back to providers to care for low-income residents on Medicaid health care.

Because the tax is crucial to the state’s budget, the Senate’s Freedom Caucus had been leveraging the bill to pressure Republican leaders to pass a bill kicking Planned Parenthood off the state’s Medicaid program, which the Legislature did last month.

Later, the Freedom Caucus also demanded that the Legislature pass a measure to raise the threshold for amending the state constitution. Currently, amendments need support from 51% of voters stateswide.

If approved by voters, the Republican proposal would make it so constitutional amendments also need support from 51% of voters in a majority of congressional districts.

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