GOVERNOR CALLS SPECIAL SESSION FOR FRA
Governor Mike Parson (R) has announced a special session will begin at 12 noon on Wednesday, June 23, in the state capitol to focus on extending the Federal Reimbursement Allowances (FRA) and related allowances, taxes, and assessments necessary for funding MO HealthNet. The FRA extension passage is necessary as the state fiscal budget year begins on July 1, 2021.
“After laying out the grim reality of our state’s financial future if FRA is not extended, I believe legislators have now agreed to a compromise that will end this stalemate, ” Governor Parson said. “We appreciate the continued efforts of House and Senate leadership to work with us towards a solution, and we are thankful that we are now in a position that warrants a call to special session.”
The special session will focus on extending certain allowances, taxes, and assessments that fund the MO HealthNet program. Specifically, Governor Parson’s special session call is to:
- Extend the expiration of the ground ambulance service reimbursement allowance
- Extend the expiration of the nursing facility reimbursement allowance
- Extend the expiration of the Medicaid managed care organization reimbursement allowance
- Extend the expiration of the FRA program
- Extend the expiration of the pharmacy tax
- Extend the expiration of the intermediate care facility for the intellectually disabled assessment
- Prohibit abortifacient drugs and devices
- Prohibit funding for abortion facilities under the Uninsured Women’s Health Program
- Allow the Senate to consider appointments that require the advice and consent of the Senate.
FRA is a program that spans multiple decades and was born from a public-private partnership between Missouri hospitals and state government to support the MO HealthNet program. The FRA provides funding to various health care providers across the state, including hospitals, pharmacies, mental health facilities, nursing facilities, emergency medical service providers, and others.
The Fiscal Year 2022 operating budget includes estimated revenue from the FRA program and other allowances, taxes, and assessments to fund primary components of the MO HealthNet program. Failure to extend these programs would cost the state of Missouri an estimated $591 million in FY22 and $788 million in FY23. Payments from the MO HealthNet program would also be reduced by $1.52 billion in FY22 and $2 billion in FY23 if these programs are not extended.
LEGISLATIVE INTERIM COMMITTEES FORMED, OTHERS LIKELY TO BE COMING
On May 25, several interim committees were formed under existing House and Senate Rules. In addition, as passed in several bills this session, upon signature by the Governor several Joint Committees and Task Forces will likely begin their work over the interim.
The following Interim Committees were formed as of May 25:
House Special Committee on Broadband Development
House Subcommittee on Mental Health Policy Research
Senate Interim Committee on Elections
Senate Interim Committee on Greater St. Louis Regional Emerging Issues
Senate Interim Committee on MO Underground Safety Review
Additional, Committees and Task Forces we expect, due to recently passed legislation after July 31:
Alzheimer State Plan Task Force (DHSS)
Food Security Task Force
Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight – Commercial Vehicle Towing Committee
Electric Vehicle Task Force (DOR)
Joint Task Force on School Bus Safety
Joint Oversight Task Force of Prescription Drug Monitoring (OA)
Task Force on the Future of Right-of-Way Management and Taxation
DNR DIRECTOR CAROL COMER DIES
The Department of Natural Resources Director, Carol Comer, died earlier this week, it was announced Wednesday. Comer came to Missouri to lead DNR in 2017 after serving as Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Governor Mike Parson was among many state officials releasing statements about Comer, saying, “We are greatly saddened and heartbroken to hear of Director Comer’s passing . . . Carol brought expertise, energy, and an enthusiastic smile to every project, and she will be deeply missed among our cabinet and in the thousands of lives that she touched. She was a dedicated public servant who loved this state, its people, and the great outdoors. We could not have asked for a better advocate for Missouri’s natural resources”.
SPECIAL INTERIM COMMITTEE ON BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT
The House Special Interim Committee on Broadband Development met Thursday afternoon for an organizational meeting. During committee discussion, Committee Chairman, Louis Riggs (R-Hannibal) informed committee members the intent of the committee is to study current broadband availability in the State of Missouri, and evaluate what steps the state needs to take to expand and implement high speed broadband. Due to the pandemic, there is a critical need for broadband availability in Missouri. The committee’s main goals are to evaluate access, speed, and affordability to provide enhancements to businesses, agriculture, healthcare, education, and workforce development priorities. In an effort to consider all testimony, the committee adopted the motion for remote testimony.
Additionally, the committee heard a presentation from Tim Arbeiter with the MO Department of Economic Development, regarding broadband in Missouri. The Department provided committee members with statistical data comparing the State of Missouri with other states regarding broadband development, availability and speed. To date, the State of Missouri is ranked 32nd and has utilized over $824 million between State and Federal funds for broadband development.
The Department has submitted an application for federal funds through the CARES Act to help with economic resiliency, to help with counties that are most effected by the pandemic and need help with broadband implementation. The Department is waiting for approval before determining what counties will have access to funds. Lastly, the Department informed committee members with current department efforts to provide awareness to Missouri residents of a federal affordability program, to supply up to $50 a month for families in need.
The committee plans to meet once a month between now and December to hear public testimony, consider recommendations, and will supply a report with appropriation requests by the end of 2021. The committee is looking at July 19 or 20th for the next meeting.