Recently, some constituents have inquired about the latest changes to the MO Rx program, which is a program that helps seniors afford their medications by reducing drug costs by 50 percent. Therefore, much of this week’s report will focus on this topic.
Also, last week the legislature reconvened for a second extraordinary session to amend and strengthen a piece of legislation sent over from the Senate to better ensure the health and safety requirements in place for abortion clinics. House members strengthened the version of the bill by adding several provisions that were originally called for by Governor Greitens but were stripped out by the Senate during floor debate. This legislation was then sent back to the Senate and is currently awaiting further action.
Finally as promised, three additional TAFP’d bills are also summarized below. More TAFP’d bill summaries will follow in the weeks to come. Finally, before Veto Session in September, the governor’s actions on all bills will be reviewed.
MO Rx Program Update (SB 139)
During the 2017 legislative session, the House Budget Committee faced a $500 million budget shortfall. As a result, committee members had to make tough choices in regard to where to make necessary cuts. It is a constitutional requirement for Missouri to pass a balanced budget (which is preferable to neighboring Illinois, a state that has so overspent it is one the verge of having its bonds downgraded to junk status and losing control concerning its financial future). While the committee did its best to preserve vital services to Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens, there simply wasn’t enough money this fiscal year to keep every program fully intact. One program that received a cut was the MO Rx Prescription Drug program that helps seniors afford their prescription medications. Specifically, the program serves to help seniors better afford their medications by reducing drug costs by 50 percent.
It is important to keep in mind that the entire MO Rx program was set to expire on August 28, 2017. To keep the program alive, the legislature did pass an extension this year renewing the program until 2022. Therefore, while $12 million had to be cut and people earning between 85 percent and 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which amounts to approximately $22,000 annually, will no longer qualify, the legislature did pass a reauthorization so the program could continue for many Missourians. Currently, the program still has $11.7 million in state funding that will allow more than 142,000 seniors to continue to receive prescription drug assistance. Also, if and when the state sees enough revenues to restore funding completely, the program will once again help all the seniors who need it to afford their medications.
Moreover, there are alternatives to getting help with important medications for those who no longer qualify for the MO Rx program. Rx Outreach is a resource for people struggling to afford medications. Rx Outreach is a nonprofit, mail-order pharmacy that provides free and low-cost generic medications for people in need. Over 66,000 people in all 50 states received their prescriptions from Rx Outreach last year. Headquartered in Maryland Heights, Missouri, the organization provides access to over 800 medications. Eligibility is based on income. People qualify with annual income of $36,180 or less for a single person, $48,720 or less for family of two, $61,260 or less for a family of three, $73,800 or less for family of four. Link to full list of medications and prices: http://rxoutreach.org/find-your-medications/
Visit www.RxOutreach.org to enroll online or call Rx Outreach at 1-877-684-1955 to enroll by phone. Once enrolled, people can easily have their prescriptions transferred to Rx Outreach to fill and mail directly to their homes. Prices for medications are listed online and are available by phone. There are no hidden charges, enrollment fees, or mailing charges, so if you need help, please check into this alternative.
Truly Agreed to and Finally Passed Bills
HB 451 – Specifies that a change in population shall not remove a city, county, or political subdivision from the operation of a law
This bill provides that once any city, county, or other political subdivision has come under the terms of a statute requiring a specified population, a subsequent loss of population will not remove the city, county or political subdivision from operation of that law. Currently, this only applies to the City of St. Louis.
HB 452 – Modifies definitions of "employee" and "physician employee" in actions against health care providers for personal injury or death
This bill creates a definition for the term "employee" and repeals the definition for the term "physician employee" in provisions relating to causes of action for damages against a health care provider for personal injury or death. With certain exceptions, no health care provider shall be liable to any plaintiff for the negligence of another entity or person who is not an employee of the health care provider.
HB 662 (Signed by Governor: 3/30/17) – Changes the laws regarding the misuse of herbicides
The bill authorizes the Department of Agriculture, if it determines that any person has knowingly used a herbicide for a crop for which the herbicide was not labeled for use, to assess a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation. If a person is a chronic violator, the department has the authority to assess a civil penalty of up to $25,000 per violation. During an active complaint investigation, the department may subpoena witnesses and compel the production of certain records relating to a person's application of any herbicide.
If the person refuses to submit the records, the department may assess a civil penalty of up to $5,000. Any person who is penalized will be liable to the department for any reasonable costs associated with the department’s investigation. Any penalty collected will be remitted to the school district in which the violation occurred. The department, after inquiry and opportunity for a hearing, may deny, suspend, revoke, or modify the provisions of any license, permit, or certification issued under the Missouri Pesticides Use Act. This bill contains an emergency clause, so it is in effect now.
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at email@example.com. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.
Serving the Constituents of the 51st District,