What We’re Reading: Missouri Not Expanding Medicaid; Public Health Worker Hiring; WHO Report Criticized

A voter-passed measure to expand Medicaid coverage in Missouri will not advance; $7.4 billion will soon be available for recruiting and hiring public health workers; the World Health Organization (WHO) is being chastised for its COVID-19 origins report.

Medicaid Expansion a No-go in Missouri

MO HealthNet, Missouri’s state Medicaid program, will not be expanding, reports NPR. At present, childless adults do not qualify for coverage under MO HealthNet and a family of 3 must earn below 21% of the federal poverty level (FPL). The preliminary measure, passed by voters last August, would have raised the qualifying limit to 138% of the FPL. Among those asking Governor Mike Parson to reconsider is the American Cancer Society, citing patients with cancer “cannot wait for legal battles to access the life-saving coverage that Medicaid expansion provides.”

Billions Will Enable Hiring of Public Health Workers Across the US

A total of $7.4 billion will soon be made available to state and local officials to continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for similar public health emergencies down the line, according to Bloomberg. Of this total, $4.4 billion will come from the American Rescue Plan and fund the hiring of public health specialists, while $3 billion will be doled out by the CDC to enable underfunded health departments to fund current staff positions and hire additional bodies. Undergraduate student internships, too, will be covered by $337 million that will finance their hiring in public health laboratories.

WHO Report on COVID-19 Origins Criticized

A letter appearing online today in Science lays out the concerns shouldered by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) director general, the United States, the European Union, and 13 other countries that the WHO’s report on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic falls short. This international group of 18 biologists, immunologists, and other scientists is asking for a more extensive investigation into how the pandemic began, with The Wall Street Journal noting their claims the original report provided no definitive conclusions on an animal or lab-accident origin to the pandemic in Wuhan, China.