Rep. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) and Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) heard from four supporters of Medicaid expansion at a legislative wrap-up session in Columbia Tuesday night. A little bit more than half of the one-hour meeting, hosted by the Boone County Pachyderms Club, was spent debating the expansion.
Missouri’s GOP super-majority blocked every Democratic attempt to increase Medicaid eligibility in the state, calling the program an expensive, yet broken system.
Supporters of the expansion said it would help low-income, working adults in Missouri who aren’t eligible for the program, but are too poor to afford their own insurance. Brian Smith of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center attended the meeting. He said when combined with cuts to Medicare provider reimbursements, the lack of Medicaid expansion would disproportionately hurt rural hospitals and might push them to close.
Both the Missouri House and Senate have instituted interim committees that would study ways to reform Medicaid. Rowden said he hopes to be involved in the discussion.
Thirty-five MU Health Care employees will see their hours reduced in the coming year. At Boone Hospital Center, seven employees’ hours will be cut, while 13 full- and part-time employees will lose their jobs.
In Boone Hospital’s case, the layoffs came in a system-wide package. The hospital’s parent company, St. Louis-based BJC Healthcare, recently announced it is cutting 160 jobs from its hospitals. This is the first time BJC has ever made system-wide layoffs. June Fowler, vice president for corporate and public communications at the company, said several factors led to the layoffs.
“BJC is experiencing reductions in our reimbursement for the healthcare services that we provide,” Fowler said. “We’ve also seen a decrease in inpatient hospitalizations.”
The mayors of Hallsville and Centralia, along with one Missouri legislator, have reached out to gun and ammunition manufacturers in an effort to attract those businesses as other states tighten gun restrictions.
State Representative Caleb Rowden said the decision to reach out to gun businesses is about improving the economy.
“This is a matter of jobs,” Rowden said. “If this was a different industry where it was so public that it made national news that these companies need relieving, I would have sent the same letter with some different bullet points.”
A last-minute move by Missouri lawmakers could make it easier for a Chinese conglomerate to buy one of the biggest pork producers in the U.S.
Legislators agreed on their final day of work in May to remove a ban on foreign ownership of agricultural land in Missouri. That change sets a foreign ownership limit at 1 percent of the state's agricultural land, subject to approval by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
University of Missouri system’s Board of Curators recently voted to expand employee’s insurance coverage to unmarried couples including partners of the same sex. Members of the LGBT community and University officials are talking about the change.
Harry Tyrer is a professor and faculty council member at MU. Tyrer says this benefit change will keep the MU system competitive in recruiting and retaining staff members.
“It’s more inclusive and it will increase the number of people who will see the University of Missouri as a great place to work at,” Tryer says.
The Columbia Police Department is continuing to investigate a shooting in downtown Columbia Saturday night. Shortly after midnight on Saturday morning, three young men were shot near the intersection of 10th Street and Broadway. While the incident has some concerned about the safety of Columbia’s downtown area, a video of the shooting captured by a bystander has sparked a reaction from many residents.