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Smith, Parson oppose proposed changes to Metropolitan Statistical Area rules

The Missouri leaders warn the changes would be detrimental to rural areas

Gov. Mike Parson joined Congressman Jason Smith and other members of Congress opposing a potential reduction in federal support for rural communities proposed by the Biden administration

In a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Shalanda Young, the group of Missouri leaders sought additional information on a proposal to increase the population threshold for communities to qualify as a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) from 50,000 to 100,000. The group said the new threshold would likely cut smaller communities’ eligibility for programs like the Community Development Block Grant and Medicaid reimbursement programs under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

An MSA is a region consisting of a city and surrounding communities tied together by economic and social factors, typically with a high population density and economic activity. The designation is used to determine eligibility for federal programs in addition to statistical analysis. 

Smith, the ranking Republican on the U.S. House’s Budget Committee, said the change could be detrimental to rural communities and other small areas in Missouri seeking federal assistance.

“Too often, Washington, D.C., fails to acknowledge or take into account the interests of rural America. Time and again we see federal dollars flow to large cities while the rural working class is left behind,” Smith said. “The current MSA threshold helps give small Missouri communities a fair shot at getting federal assistance and access to programs for the people who live there. I am proud to stand with Gov. Parson and my Missouri Senate and House colleagues to lead this effort in bringing attention to the needs of hardworking Missourians and supporting a stronger future for rural America.”

The coalition called on the Biden administration to provide additional information on federal programs using the MSA to determine funding as well as a report on the economic impact the change would have on rural communities. 

Per the MSA’s Standards Review Committee, the change would remove the designation from 144 areas covering nearly 19 million people. 

“The people of Missouri represent the honest, hard-working character that is essential to the success of our nation. Our federal government should support these communities, not make it harder for businesses and families to thrive,” Parson said. “I am proud to stand alongside Representative Smith to bring attention to these needs and urge OMB to conduct a thorough review of the effects this change would have on small communities here in Missouri and across the nation.”

U.S. Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley joined Congressmen Sam Graves, Billy Long, and Blaine Luetkemeyer alongside Congresswomen Vicky Hartzler and Ann Wagner on the letter. Other lawmakers from Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio have also pushed back on the proposal.