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Showing posts from April, 2007

Senate Completes Work on Budget

Week 17 - April 23 - 27, 2007

Bill Repealing Loss Limits Gets First-Round Approval

Missouri is one step closer to having a budget for the 2008 fiscal year since the Senate completed work on the spending plan. Senators spent a good portion of the week discussing where the state’s revenue will be used over the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1, 2008.
The $21 billion budget includes major increases for education and healthcare funding. Elementary and secondary education will receive a 3.6 percent increase in state spending to make a total of $2.8 million. Higher education will receive a 6.5 percent increase totaling state spending to $936 million. The Department of Social Services will receive a 9.8 percent increase which includes state sponsored healthcare funding. State spending on state supported pharmacy programs will increase to $26 million and budgeted reimbursement for physicals will increase to $20 million in state funds.
The spending plan also contains a $200 million surplus…

Senate Works to Establish Joint CAFO Committee

JEFFERSON CITY— After much debate yesterday (April 19, 2007) on Senate Bill 570, a measure to address some issues with concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), the Missouri Senate decided the issue needs more study. Senators gave first round approval to an amended form of the original bill that will establish a joint House-Senate committee to consider plans for modifying state rules on CAFOs.
The committee would consist of five members from the Senate and five from the House with three from each chamber coming from the majority party and two each from the minority party.
The original SB 570 ran into sticking points over the amount of control local governments would have over CAFOs in their areas and if state and federal laws would trump those local regulations. The amended bill will charge the committee with conducting a comprehensive study on CAFOs, including that local control and regulation, economic impacts, and other issues it finds along the way. A report would be due to…

Higher Education Legislation Receives Initial Senate Approval

Week 16 - Week of April 16 - 20, 2007

Jefferson City — After weeks of discussion and debate, the Senate has given first-round approval to Senate Bill 389, an omnibus higher education bill. The legislation passed after a parliamentary procedure ended debate and brought the bill to a vote.
SB 389 includes provisions for the partial sale of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA). The sale of MOHELA would result in a total of $350 million over a six year period, with the money going towards construction projects on campuses throughout the state. The bill also strengthens the power of the Department of Higher Education’s coordinating board and creates five performance standards for public institutions. Public colleges and universities would also be required to create common competency standards for entry-level courses, and would have to accept transfer credits from those courses.
The bill has also been touted as beneficial for students due to scholarship program increases an…

Senate Sends to House New Public Health-care Program

Week 15 - Week of April 9 - 13, 2007

Jefferson City — During a week of lengthy debates and dozens of legislative amendments, state senators have sent to the House legislation implementing a new health-care program.
Senators approved a measure reforming Missouri’s public health-care system. Senate Bill 577 creates MO HealthNet to replace the current Medicaid program. MO HealthNet, which focuses on preventive care, wellness and consumer choice, provides incentives for doctors and patients to reduce costs. Under the program, physicians can receive increased funding for reducing hospital stays, and consumers who practice healthy behavior earn credits on debit cards useful for co-pays, prescription drugs and other health-related expenses, such as gym memberships. Participants also work with a “health-care advocate,” who assists patients in accessing care. MO HealthNet contains a premium-offset program, which subsidizes private health insurance for employers and workers. Increased health-care…

Senate Approves Medicaid Overhaul

Week 14 - Week of April 2 - 6, 2007

Jefferson City — After several days of debate, the Missouri Senate this week approved a new state health-care system. Meanwhile, senators received the budget from the House.
The Senate this week gave first-round approval to legislation implementing a new program to replace Missouri’s Medicaid system. Senate Bill 577 creates MO HealthNet, which focuses on preventive care over more costly emergency care and emphasizes transparency and consumer choice. The idea is to create a more efficient system by keeping people healthy, rather than treating them once they’re already sick.
The wide-ranging makeover to Missouri’s public-health-care system includes incentives for doctors and patients to decrease overall costs. For instance, physicians could receive more funding for reducing hospital stays, and health-care consumers who maintain health-improvement plans would earn credits for medications and gym memberships. MO HealthNet participants also work with a “hea…