What’s Happening Report: March 2, 2020

If we were having coffee, we might be talking this week about washing hands.

Everywhere I turn, I hear about the coronavirus. COVID-19 is clearly spreading within the United States. Hand-washing, while it is a simple, every day thing, is one of the best ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus because a thorough hand-washing can kill the virus. Read more about recommended hand-washing methods.

I am very concerned about how the virus will spread within the United States. We do not have a strong national healthcare system. I read recently about people who were in government-mandated quarantine and faced with a large hospital bill because of it. Medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. And medical costs rank high on the list of why people will not get treated for illness.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, we had a 9% uninsured rate in 2017. Since then, over 130,000 people have lost Medicaid coverage. We have had 8 rural hospitals close since 2010. I fear that most of Missouri does not have the infrastructure in place to deal with a serious viral outbreak.

Every week, the House Democrats will be holding a press conference to highlight bills we have filed. Last week, we talked about LGBTQ bills in the Missouri legislature — both pro and con. There have been 15 anti-LGBT bills filed in the Missouri House this year. This week, the Judiciary committee will hear a bill making it illegal to offer hormone therapy to trans children. Watch our latest conference here.

Filing opened last week. I filed my candidacy on Tuesday to run for State Representative for the 91st District (my current position).
Fixing Missouri’s Medicaid system is an issue I have been concerned about for a long time and have spoken about in past newsletters. Missouri House Democrats recently held a press conference about the drops in Medicaid enrollment. We asked the Governor to stop dropping people from Medicaid until a determination has been made as to what is happening. Last week, the 60,000 children who were dropped from the rolls who still qualify made state and national news. Missouri is now, in the media, encouraging those whose children lost Medicaid coverage to re-apply. I believe Missouri should go further, affirmatively reaching out to those who lost coverage and re-enrolling those who still qualify.

One good thing that is coming from this is that HB 2379, which allows 1 year continuous eligibility for children receiving Medicaid in Missouri, was heard in committee on Monday.
As for my week, I have three committees scheduled. The Health and Mental Health Committee meets at 12:00 PM on Monday, and we will hear HB 2412, which pertains to rebates and payments for prescription drugs relating to the pharmacy benefits manager. We will also hear HB 2527, which pertains to the prescription drug cost of insulin, as well as HB 1816, which would remove the requirement that Advanced Practice Registered Nurses have to practice within 75 miles of their collaborating physicians. 

This week the Subcommittee on Health Care Reform will meet for the first hearing of this session at 11:00 AM on Monday to learn about Disproportionate Share Payments (DSH) to hospitals to reimburse for uncompensated care. 

The Children and Families Committee will meet at 8:00 AM on Tuesday to vote on my bill, HB 1271, which prohibits the sale of baby crib bumper pads. We will also vote on HB 2356, which prohibits discrimination due to hair textures or protective hairstyles in educational institutions, and HB 1437, which adds newborn incubators to the list of places a parent may deliver a child with the intent not to return without being prosecuted. Additionally, we will hear HB 2552, which would allow a former MO HealthNet recipient to continue to receive benefits after being found ineligible provided that he or she pays a premium. 

Last week we held a public hearing regarding HB 2379, which is a combination of two of my bills (HB 1272 and HB 1670) that was filed by Representative Helms. The bill was well-received by the Health and Mental Health Committee and we are evaluating the fiscal note at this time. This bill would allow continuous eligibility for MO HealthNet for kids (giving them one continuous year of coverage rather than having to reverify). It also removes the 30-day enrollment waiting period for children eligible for the CHIP program to begin receiving coverage. 

HB 2199 is similar to my bill, HB 1274, and is on the perfection calendar for this week. This bill would require parents to keep their children in rear-facing car seats until they reach age two.  
My bill, HB 1270, which removes the requirement that notices to recipients of blind pensions be sent via certified mail, will be put on the House calendar, where it will be up for Third Read in a number of days. Senator Wallingford has filed a corresponding Senate bill, SB 974, thus we are optimistic that soon we will remove this roadblock!

This coming week was the last week to file bills. I filed 2 bills this week, bringing my grand total of bills filed to 25. They were HB 2601, creating protections for immigrant tenants, and HB 2609, allowing school districts to annex onto special school districts.
My office has published a consumer guide but will not be sending it to the district. We have had a small number printed to make available to constituents, please contact my office if you would like a copy. The consumer guide is available through my website from the “District Publication” button.

I am working to build a coalition of people with disabilities in my district. If you have a disability and would like to help advise me on disability issues, please let me know. The concept of “nothing about us without us” is important to me and needs to be part of all policy making, especially relating to people with disabilities.
Diapers Needed!

Did you know that potty training is one of the most stressful seasons in a young family’s life? There is a clear link between a lack of access to resources and increased rates of child abuse and neglect. This is why the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank has put out a request for training pants. They are trying to raise about 16,600 training pants. If you can help the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank with 4T-5T training pants, please take them to 646 Hollywood Place in Webster Groves. There is a box for diapers on the front porch. You can also take them to (or have them delivered at) 6141 Etzel Ave., St. Louis, MO 63133. Their hours are Monday thru Friday from 8:30-4:30, Saturday from 10-noon. Thank you!
Public Hearings Schedule for Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Five public hearings on vocational rehabilitation services will take place throughout the state in March. The hearings will be conducted by Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation (MVR) to gain feedback on ways to improve services for individuals with disabilities. Input is welcome regarding MVR’s goals and priorities found in the current state plan.

Public Hearing Schedule
March 2 10:00 a.m. – noon
Vocational Rehabilitation
District Office Conference Room
Joseph P. Teasdale State Office Building
8800 E. 63rd Street, Ste. 260
Raytown, Missouri

March 2 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Missouri Job Center – Saint Louis County
The Crossings at Northwest
715 Northwest Plaza Drive
St. Ann, Missouri

March 4 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Empower: Abilities
Building B – Community Room
1450 W. Cambridge
Springfield, Missouri

March 4 10:00 a.m. – noon
SEMO Alliance for Disability Independence
Community Room
755 S. Kingshighway
Cape Girardeau, Missouri

March 4 10:00 a.m. – noon
Vocational Rehabilitation District Office
Conference Room A
900 W. Nifong, Suite 210
Columbia, Missouri

Written comments should be submitted by March 31 to Jennifer Kincaid, Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 1735 W. Catalpa Street, Suite C, Springfield, MO 65807; or to info@vr.dese.mo.gov.

Individuals who require accommodations should make arrangements in advance by contacting 877-222-8963 (toll-free), 573-751-0881 (TTY), 573-751-1441 (fax) or info@vr.dese.mo.gov.

For more information, contact Jennifer Kincaid, Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation, at 877-222-8967.
Medical Bills
If you have received a surprise medical bill, I would like to hear your story. Please e-mail me with the subject “surprise bill” or call my office at573-751-1285 to tell us your story.

The Department of Insurance is available to advocate for customers who think they have been taken advantage of. You can call their consumer helpline at 573-751-4126 to get help on insurance matters.
Women Legislators of Missouri Scholarship

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. – Women Legislators of Missouri are encouraging young women, set to graduate from high school, to apply for a $500 college scholarship. Each year the group selects one student from each of Missouri’s congressional districts to receive the award. Members hope to spread the word about the scholarship opportunity so that female students from all parts of the state will apply.

This is a great opportunity for any young woman, who is interested in continuing her educational studies, to receive some valuable financial assistance.

The Women Legislators of Missouri Caucus created the senior scholarship program to provide financial assistance to students on the basis of leadership, academics and community service. Candidates must fill out an application and are required to submit a 500-word essay answering the question, “If you were a state legislator, what would you hope to accomplish and why?”

A link to download the scholarship is located at https://www.myscholarshipcentral.org

The submission deadline is Tuesday, March 31, 2020. 

The Women Legislators will announce the recipients on Monday, April 6th. The scholarships will be presented and a reception held in their honor on Monday, April 20th in the House Chamber at the Missouri State Capitol. For further information please contact 573-751-2042.
RealID Update
RealID compliant drivers and nondrivers licenses are now available with proper documentation. Please note that the Federal government requires a copy of this documentation be kept for several years. You can go to the DMV and request a replacement for your current license with the Real ID for a $5 processing fee. If you renew your license at the time of the request you will be charged the renewal fee. You need a RealID compliant Identification Card to board an airplane and enter federal buildings; Missouri issued Identification Cards (including drivers’ licenses) will be accepted in lieu of RealID until October 1, 2020. For more information about RealID, go to dor.mo.gov/drivers/real-id-information/.

According to the federal Real ID Act, states must retain paper copies of source documents for a minimum of 7 years, and images/microfiche of source documents for at least 10 years, after which point they are to be irretrievably destroyed. Missouri statute complies with this requirement and permits the Department of Revenue to keep these documents within a system not connected to the internet or accessible by any other state or the federal government.
When you get a RealID, please note that the state is required to keep a digital copy of your data for ten years. If you are using a document with private information for identification, like a bank statement, I believe you can redact that information before they scan it.
The Census is Coming!
The census is so important that it is constitutionally required! Article I Section II of the U.S. Constitution mandates that we take a census every ten years so that we know how the country is shifting and changing. The Founders chose population, rather than wealth or land, to apportion power, making the census foundational to our representative democracy. 

The information gathered is kept confidential for 72 years until it is released by the National Archives for genealogists, historians, and researchers to use in their analysis of population trends. 
The data collected in the census is confidential. It cannot be used by law enforcement, immigration, or to determine eligibility for government benefits. 

The counts are used to determine Missouri’s fair share of over $675 billion of federal funding for programs including Medicaid, SNAP, school lunch programs, subsidized housing, roads, and many, many other programs. Each person that is not counted costs Missouri $1,272 in federal funding. 

The data is also used to ensure Missouri’s fair representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Electoral College as well. 
In March, every household will receive a mailing from the U.S. Census Bureau with instructions to visit their website. You can also complete the census by telephone or mail.

In St. Louis County, 84% of residents participated in the Census in 2000, and 81% in 2010. This leaves a significant number undercounted, which cost St. Louis County and Missouri millions of dollars.
The Census is still hiringApply here.