Medicaid, Obamacare and Missouri lawmakers

October 1 is a very important day this year.

Not only are the new online portals for health insurance slated to open but also it’s my birthday. Plus I’ll be starting a five-day, crazy-awesome trip to New York City for my business reporting class.

But, more relevant for the rest of the interwebs, the health insurance exchanges or marketplaces run by the federal government are supposed to go live in just two short days. But both state-run exchanges and federally-managed ones are facing problems and delays that may inconvenience anyone eager to jump right in. The individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act won’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2014, though, and to meet that deadline, people won’t have to purchase through the online exchanges until Dec. 15., 2013.

In Missouri, there’s a federally-run exchange. Because, as we’ve covered already, the voters passed an initiative prohibiting the state from creating one back in 2012.

One issue that’s drawn attention is the fact that the federal exchanges probably won’t be prepared to automatically transfer information about eligible individuals directly to the state Medicaid portal. The more pressing issue, however, is what to do about those individuals who fall below the poverty line but won’t qualify for federal subsidies to purchase health insurance on the exchanges.

That – and what to do about the state’s Medicaid program in general – is the topic of six planned hearings of the House Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation, chaired by Rep. Jay Barnes. The Senate Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation and Reform of the same name only has one meeting currently scheduled – for Oct. 2, 2013.

Barnes has been teasing the release of an updated draft of a Missouri-specific bill to “transform” Medicaid for a couple weeks now. That’s yet to be seen but he also said he won’t officially file a bill until he’s gotten input from the committee.

The next meeting for the House committee is Oct. 15.

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