The federal government has approved a plan to address the “ongoing and persistent” problems Missouri has had in processing Medicaid applications that have left the state out of compliance for almost a year. Observers of Medicaid say it’s unusual for the federal government to intervene this way, demonstrating how severe the application delays have become. According to state data, Medicaid applicants are waiting an average of 115 days for the state to process applications – that’s more than double the amount allowed by the federal government. The mitigation plan sets Sept. 30 as the deadline for Missouri to meet federal standards. The state has enrolled 200,000 people since Medicaid was expanded in the state, with approximately 50,000 applications pending at the end of June.
Among the mitigation strategies is to accept those applicants who applied on the federal healthcare marketplace using the federal information to fast-track coverage. Another strategy is to enroll parents into Medicaid based on children’s income eligibility. The Department of Social Services has consistently pointed to staffing shortages as the reason for delays. It has held job fairs and has offered overtime to recruit people.