(The Center Square) – Medicaid reimbursements for children’s hospitals in Missouri could soon face cuts of as much as $140 million as Missouri lawmakers contemplate cuts to the system of add-on payments.

With monthly losses mounting stemming from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the state’s children hospital could be the hardest hit by the changes, as the proposal would disproportionately impact children’s hospitals because specialized pediatric care at institutions such as SSM Health’s Cardinal Glennon and BJC’s St. Louis Children’s Hospital attract families from neighboring states.

Missouri remains the only state that supplements such reimbursements to limit the variance between the patient’s home state Medicaid rate and Missouri’s.

“I think there could be an opportunity to talk about all things health and health-care related in the time of a pandemic,” House Budget Chair Cody Smith, R-Carthage, told the Kansas City Star. “This certainly is in line with that because dealing with Medicaid is our largest program in the state that provides health care to Missourians.”

The proposal comes as part of a larger plan wrapped in a resolution offered by republicans challenging the thought of any Medicaid expansion across the state.

“We have seen a proliferation of payment arrangements that mask or circumvent the rules where shady recycling schemes drive up taxpayer costs and pervert the system,” said Seema Verma, of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrators.

Lawmakers from both sides have sounded the alarm about CMS’s proposed rule possibly leading to `reduced federal dollars for all states.

“We should take the opportunity to fix this before CMS fixes it for us,” Smith said.

In all, the reductions total in the neighborhood at $140 million annually to the state’s three children’s hospitals, including as much as $70 million to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City.

For Children’s Mercy, the reductions come on top of the roughly $1 million a day the hospital has been losing since the start of the coronavirus, all of it playing a critical role in the hospital being forced to furlough at least 600 workers.

“Eliminating these payments, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, would severely limit the ability of these pediatric hospitals to treat poor and sick children,” Children’s Mercy spokesperson Lisa Augustine told the Star. “And, because the payments are not funded by Missouri taxpayers, the elimination of these payments would not save taxpayers or the state of Missouri a single cent – only sick children and their families would pay the cost of such a catastrophic cut.”

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Children’s hospitals could lose $140 million in Medicaid funding – The Center Square