Missouri Medicaid panel chairman removed amid drop in enrollment

Posted at 12:27 PM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 13:27:34-04

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP)  — The chairman of a committee that oversees Missouri's Medicaid program was replaced amid a steep drop in people receiving health care through the program.

Timothy McBride, who was appointed chairman of the MoHealthNet Oversight Committee in 2013 by Democratic then-Gov. Jay Nixon, said he was removed from the panel in May, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Todd Richardson, director of the state's MO HealthNet Division, told him he was being replaced.

"He said it was nothing personal, nothing about me," McBride said.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson's administration has been questioned after reports that thousands of people have lost health care coverage under Medicaid in the last year.

State data shows nearly 90,000 children and close to 23,000 adults were dropped from Missouri's Medicaid program in the past year, prompting House Minority Leader Crystal Quade to call for an investigation.

At a meeting of the oversight board Tuesday, Patrick Luebbering, director of the Family Support Division of the Department of Social Services, said 41,000 fewer people applied for coverage from 2015 to 2018. Some have attributed the drop to the state's improving economy.

McBride, a Washington University professor specializing in health care issues, said he had asked questions about the decrease before he was removed. But he said Tuesday that Richardson and others didn't say he was released because of those questions.

McBride said he was told, "Governors like to make their appointments."

No one from Parson's administration explained McBride's departure and the governor's office has made no mention of it, the Post-Dispatch reported.

McBride said the vice chairwoman of the panel, Margaret Benz, also was replaced. She also was a Nixon appointee.