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The approval of Medicaid expansion extends coverage to more low-income individuals.
SBJ file graphic
The approval of Medicaid expansion extends coverage to more low-income individuals.

Medicaid expansion, payday loan fees approved in primary

Posted online

Greene County voters yesterday approved the Medicaid expansion amendment – joining 37 states in the legislative move – and new regulations on local payday loan businesses.

For yesterday's primary election, roughly 32%, or 53,430, of the county's 166,222 registered voters cast a ballot, according to the unofficial election results posted by the Greene County clerk's office last night.

Amendment 2
Voters in Greene County and the state narrowly gave the stamp of approval for Missouri to adopt Medicaid expansion.

In Greene County, Amendment 2 passed with 52.3% of the vote, according to the unofficial election results. There were more than 27,700 votes in favor of the proposal. At the state level, the amendment received 53.3% of votes in favor out of nearly 1.3 million cast, according to the unofficial results posted by the Missouri secretary of state's office.

The passed legislation means coverage will be extended to at least 231,000 additional individuals between the ages of 19 and 65 who have annual income at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

That’s roughly $17,000 per year for an individual or $29,000 for a family of three. Prior to yesterday's vote, the state’s Medicaid program, MO HealthNet, was only available to low-income individuals in four categories: those with disabilities, families with children, seniors and pregnant women. There were over 923,000 enrollees in May, according to the Missouri Department of Social Services.

Medicaid expansion is expected to cost $200 million annually and save the state $1.3 billion by 2026, and the expansion is projected to create 16,300 jobs, according to past reporting.

In January's State of the State address, Gov. Mike Parson called Medicaid expansion a “massive tax increase that Missourians cannot afford." He warned expansion would come at the cost of education, workforce development and infrastructure costs. Proponents of the legislation have said it would direct more dollars to health care systems and make preventive care more accessible to childless adults between the ages of 19 and 65.

Payday loans
The payday loan initiative was passed by 56.7%, or more than 14,700 voters, according to the Greene County results.

It's part of an ordinance passed in May by Springfield City Council to reform short-term lending practices. Yesterday's affirmative vote means the city can begin collecting an annual fee of $5,000 – or $2,500 if there is less than six months remaining in the calendar year when the permit is issued – from payday loan companies, according to past SBJ reporting.

Council's ordinance earlier this year required payday loan companies to obtain an annual permit from the city and to post information on-site for customers to review, such as interest rates and fees, and provide borrowers with payoff disclosures.

Candidate results
Yesterday's primary also included several candidate choices in the run-up to the general election in November.

More than 84% of Missouri voters who voted Democrat sent Missouri state Auditor Nicole Galloway to challenge incumbent Gov. Parson, who earned 75% of the vote on the Republican ballot. Also on the state level, former Missouri House of Representatives member Vicki Englund was voted in to take on incumbent Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, a Republican who owns Shell Knob-based MariCorps US LLC. Both treasurer races were unopposed.

For the 7th Congressional District seat in southwest Missouri, incumbent Republic Rep. Billy Long got the nod with 66% of the vote. Democrat Teresa Montseny, who ran unopposed in the primary, will challenge him in the November election.

Locally, homebuilder Rusty MacLachlan was chosen over state Rep. Sonya Anderson for the Greene County Commission seat that's being vacated by the retiring Harold Bengsch.

Other candidate races include:
• lieutenant governor, with incumbent Republican Mike Kehoe scoring nearly 59% of the vote and Democrat Alissia Canady winning 73.5% of the tally;
• attorney general, with incumbent Republican Eric Schmitt running unopposed and Democrat Rich Finneran taking 55.4% of the vote;
• secretary of state, with incumbent Republican Jay Ashcroft running unopposed and Democratic candidate Yinka Faleti also running without challengers;
• Missouri House District 131, with Bill Owen earning nearly 86% of the total on the Republican ballot and Democrat Allison Schoolcraft running unopposed;
• Missouri House District 132, with incumbent Democrat Crystal Quade and Republican challenger Sarah Semple both running unopposed; and
• Missouri House District 134, with Alex Riley winning 70.7% on the Republic ticket and Democrat Derrick Nowlin running unopposed.

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