Missouri Governor Will Not Fund Medicaid Expansion, Flouting State Constitution and Voters
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday that he will not expand Medicaid, ignoring the state’s Constitution that requires it after voters backed the measure in a referendum.
Health care advocates and the state’s Democratic leaders immediately lambasted Republican Parson. Many have said he went back on his word to meet the wishes of voters, who last year backed the measure to extend Medicaid to around 275,000 low-income Missourians as of July 1.
“The governor lied,” said Rep. Peter Merideth, the senior Democrat on the Missouri House Budget Committee. “He said he represented all of Missouri and he would uphold the Constitution, but he doesn’t. He’s a former sheriff, and I would have thought he knew better than to violate the Constitution. , but here we are: he lied, and the Missourians are going to pay the price. “
In a controversial measure from the 2020 poll, 53% of Missouri voters supported expanding Medicaid eligibility to low-income workers in the state who can’t afford health insurance but earn too much to access to the state’s Medicaid program.
Parson, however, claimed the state could not afford to fund the expansion of the program after the Republican-controlled State Assembly refused to fund this aspect of the budget. The governor formally withdrew the state’s plan for the expansion of Medicaid on Thursday.
“Without a revenue source or GA funding authority, we are unable to continue the expansion at this time and must withdraw our state plan amendments to ensure that the current MO HealthNet program of the Missouri remains solvent, ”he said in a statement, referring to the name of the state’s Medicaid program.
The budget released by Parson’s office earlier this year included funding for the expansion, but Republicans in the state assembly voted to remove it from the state budget. House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, a Republican, launched the campaign and said the state could not afford to provide health care coverage to those 275,000 Missourians who earn under 18 000 dollars per year.
Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The expansion would have cost the state $ 130 million, but it would also secure about $ 1.4 billion in federal matching to fund the program. The state would also get an additional $ 1 billion over the next two years to help implement the program after the Biden administration softened the deal for the minority of states that refused the expansion.
“State after state has shown the benefits of expanding Medicaid for their economy,” said Amy Blouin, chief executive officer of the Missouri Budget Project, a nonprofit that analyzes the budget and political priorities of the State. “We think there is a lot of money in the state budget to implement it. The fact that we will have additional federal funds through the US bailout coming to states that are expanding Medicaid now also frees up general revenue. meaning not to do that. “
Parson blamed the Assembly and said his hands were tied by their decision to withdraw funding for the expansion from the budget. He reiterated this in a letter he sent to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Thursday.
“Because the initiative petition was not self-financing and the General Assembly refused to appropriate funding”, he wrote in the letter, the executive power of the state “did not has no power to carry out “expansion.
A CMS spokesperson confirmed that the agency was aware of the Missouri decision.
Meanwhile, the governor’s characterization was rejected by advocates for health care in the state, many of whom noted that he could have funded the program with the federal dollars the state would have received through the expansion and adopted a supplementary budget later in the year.
“It is not true that he had neither the money available nor the option,” said Dina van der Zalm, health care organizer for the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, a nonprofit organization. “It’s just good political coverage.”
We don’t know what could happen from here. The state is obligated by its own Constitution to provide Medicaid coverage to a wider population as of July 1, but it has not significantly increased its Medicaid spending to support this influx.
The billions of federal dollars the state would earn for expanding Medicaid could also be at risk if they fail to provide the funds necessary to secure the federal match.
But many said the state would undoubtedly face a costly lawsuit from supporters of the expansion in the coming days, many of whom expected Parson to maintain the measure – even if the Republican supermajority of the state was trying to torpedo the expansion of the budget.
Richard von Glahn, the organization director of Missouri Jobs with Justice, a progressive task force that pushed for the expansion of Medicaid, would not comment on the timing of a possible trial, but he stressed that there had many interested parties in the state.
“There is a broad coalition of hundreds of groups who have supported the expansion of Medicaid,” he said. “There are hundreds of thousands of Missourians who are affected by the governor’s actions and whose constitutional rights could be violated. So we are all interested in supporting the Constitution.”