Missouri looks increasingly inhospitable in how it treats the poor

10/08/2013 1:02 PM

10/08/2013 6:07 PM

Missouri lawmakers’ actions make the state look inhospitable to people who are poor.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states could expand Medicaid eligibility limits to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. In Missouri, that would mean health care coverage for about 350,000 people who currently are doing without, the Missouri Foundation for Health recently reported.

The Missouri General Assembly, like a lot of Republican controlled state legislatures nationwide, rejected that opportunity to benefit the poor, leaving the first three years of 100 percent reimbursement from the federal government — free money — on the table. Missouri lawmakers also refused to set up health care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, enabling people without health care coverage to finally be able to afford to have it.

Missourians have to use the federal system,


, because state lawmakers like those in other Republican dominated legislatures didn’t set up state-based exchanges. The federal exchange is the one suffering a lot of problems.

Now to add to low-income folks’ misery in Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon is pushing a rule change that could cause about 58,000 people to lose their access to food stamps. Since 2009, Missouri has qualified for a waiver allowing able-bodied, unemployed adults with no children to be in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, The Kansas City Star reports.

The federal government pays 100 percent of the benefits while the state administers the program. Missouri still qualifies for the statewide waiver and likely will through 2015. The eligibility change would only allow the waiver of the work requirement in counties where the joblessness rate is higher than 10 percent.

That would leave out adults in Jackson County, where the unemployment rate is 8.1 percent. But the need, especially among older, long-term, jobless workers, remains high.

Nixon needs to take that into account before cutting people off. Food banks, soup kitchens and charities are already overwhelmed.

The Great Recession may be over, but its effects remain ongoing for a lot of Missourians struggling to get by, and the state hasn’t done much for them lately.

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