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Missouri Medicaid data system upgrades on the way

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With an influx of enrollees, Missouri’s Medicaid data systems are due for an extensive upgrade, according to MO HealthNet Division Director Todd Richardson.

Richardson said one of the division’s priorities was creating a “data warehouse” — a centralized cache of data from multiple sources — to streamline the Medicaid reporting process and allow for better collaboration and information sharing between the state and providers. 

“We’re not talking about one system — we’re talking about a collection of systems that all have to work together to provide the program we want to deliver,” Richardson said. “What that enterprise data warehouse is going to allow us to do is to have a single source of truth for our Medicaid data. It’s not just a new system to house the data, but also a system focused on data governance so we know what our data means.”

Richardson told the Senate Interim Committee on Medicaid Accountability and Taxpayer Protection Wednesday the division was looking at other states and their systems to chart its path forward. He said Missouri was among several states with outdated networks that found themselves “data-rich and information-poor.”

Kirk Mathews, chief transformation officer of the MO HealthNet Division, told the committee updating computer infrastructure was a priority during its last hearing

Chair Bill White said the committee’s next report would recommend investments to update the program’s digital infrastructure across the board. 

Several providers and advocates appeared before the committee Wednesday morning to recommend changes to the program. 

Another common theme at the hearing was increasing access to postpartum care by extending Medicaid coverage to new parents from six weeks to 12 months: A bill signed into law in 2020 containing language sponsored by Sen. Jill Schupp, who also sits on the committee, enabled the extension for postpartum depression care up to a year. 

Sam Lee, director of Campaign Life Missouri, said the extension would be more viable with federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which grants states the option to provide overall postpartum Medicaid coverage for up to 12 months through Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. The plan requires states to extend coverage under both programs.

Lee urged the committee to propose legislation and an appropriation enabling the 12-month coverage option for all mothers. 

“This has been bipartisan, overwhelmingly,” Lee said. “This is not a liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat issue — this is people wanting to help pregnant women and their babies.”

The committee was established over the summer following the standoff over the state’s federal reimbursement allowance (FRA), which collects a tax from health care providers and matches the funds to pay for the MO HealthNet program. Senate leadership formed the committee to address the concerns of a band of conservative members who opposed the use of Medicaid funds for abortion providers and draft recommendations to continue the “protection of unborn life” in the state.

The committee approved its first of two reports last month, recommending statutory and regulatory changes to the evaluation of Medicaid funding for abortion providers and related entities by Missouri’s Social Services and Health and Senior Services departments. The rules are under review by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), though White said he was confident they did not violate federal rules. 

White said Wednesday’s hearing would likely be the last before the committee’s second report is compiled. Its findings will be presented to the General Assembly at the start of session.