Capitol Report: Representative Patricia PikeJ
JEFFERSON CITY, MO: Missourians received good news recently when the state received a federal infrastructure grant that will trigger a bonding plan to repair more than 200 bridges across the state. The bonding plan was approved by the state legislature during the 2019 regular session and was one of Gov. Mike Parson’s top priorities.
Parson made the announcement that the state had received an $81.2 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to build a new I-70 Missouri River Bridge at Rocheport. The grant will enable a project to replace the existing four-lane bridge with a new six-lane structure. The existing bridge has been rated in poor condition, and a repair plan could have caused traffic backups of 20 miles in each direction, and delays of up to 8 hours.
In announcing the state had received the funding, Parson said, “The Rocheport bridge has long been in need of repair, and we’re thrilled that we now have the funds to complete this critical project and trigger our bold transportation plan. Transportation drives our economy, and replacing the bridge is a major step toward maintaining our highway system and ensuring we have the framework for access and expansion in the future.”
The INFRA grant also triggers the $301 million bonding plan that was approved by lawmakers on the final day of the legislative session. The legislation is designed to provide funding to allow the state transportation department to fix 215 bridges across Missouri. The bonding plan also works in conjunction with $50 million in funding allocated in the state budget to fix 35 bridges.
The governor noted that implementation of the plan will not only provide funding for Missouri’s bridges, but will also free up $301 million in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program for other transportation needs in Missouri.
Missouri House Members Continue to Study Medicaid Enrollment Changes
House Speaker Elijah Haahr made it clear last week that the House will continue to look closely at the changes in Medicaid enrollment numbers. Haahr issued a letter outlining the steps he has taken to seek answers to why the state has seen a significant drop in enrollment over the past year, and giving his support to a continued investigation into the issue.
Missouri’s Medicaid program, which is known as MO HealthNet, provides health insurance for low-income Missourians. Missouri currently has approximately 600,000 Missourians on Medicaid. That number has dropped by more than 100,000 over the past year.
Officials with the program have said the drop in enrollment is due to a combination of factors including an improving economy that has resulted in more people accessing private insurance, more people going without insurance after the tax penalty that was part of the Affordable Care Act was removed, and new software that better allows the program to identify people who are no longer eligible for coverage.
Speaker Haahr said Rep. David Wood, who chairs the Subcommittee on Appropriations for Health, Mental Health and Social Services, has already been investigating the decline in enrollment. Haahr also has personally requested an updated briefing on the reasons for the change in enrollment from the MO HealthNet Director. Haahr also noted that he appointed state Rep. Jon Patterson, M.D., to the MO HealthNet Oversight Committee.
Haahr wrote, “Rep. Wood and Rep. Patterson have extensive knowledge of MO HealthNet and the utmost care for the most vulnerable Missourians, especially our children, that extends past partisan lines. I trust that both Rep. Wood and Rep. Patterson will continue to ensure Missouri’s children receive the medical care they are entitled to.”
Haahr also wrote that if MO HealthNet officials fail to adequately answer the questions the legislature has about the enrollment drop, he will give his full support to public hearings on the issue.
Please contact Representative Pike at Patricia.Pike@house.mo.gov or call 573-751-5388 with your comments and for assistance on state issues, resolutions, flags, and visits in District and at the Capitol. Contact Legislative Assistant, Matt Glover, at Matthew.Glover@house.mo.gov. Our 126th District Office is open year-round at the Missouri Capitol Monday through Thursday – 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in Room 404A.