Medicaid debate likely headed to courts after Missouri drops expansion plans

Missouri News

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri won’t expand Medicaid even though a majority of voters said they wanted to do so.

Voters approved a constitutional amendment last year, allowing more people to qualify for Medicaid. However, lawmakers said there’s no way to fund it, and they approved a budget without money for it.

On Thursday, Gov. Mike Parson said the state is unable to proceed with expansion at this time.

Locally, people in the Kansas City metro are hoping this isn’t the end for Medicaid expansion in Missouri and something changes. That change might come through the courts, as both sides expect lawsuits to follow.

More than 200,000 people in Missouri will be eligible for the expansion if it passes. Many say the amendment is now part of the state’s constitution, and Parson needs to follow it.

Fifty-year-old Bill Thompson, from Independence, sees the expansion of Medicaid as a glimmer of light and hope.

“The the leadership in Jefferson City has failed us as working people,” Thompson said. “I feel like they don’t care about us. I mean, my life matters. My family’s health, my health is connected to my family’s health.”

State Sen. John Rizzo, D-Independence, is disappointed with the governor’s decision.

“I think that he was probably already ready to go with this decision one way or the other, and he just put his plan into place afterwards and kind of tore the band aid off,” Rizzo said.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas spoke out about the decision as well, saying Parson should honor the people of Missouri’s vote.

“I think the governor understands that the people of Missouri actually spoke at the ballot box, and I would encourage him to recognize that we need to make sure that Medicaid expansion is funded in Missouri’s budget,” Lucas said.

Richard von Glahn works with Missouri Jobs with Justice, an organization that pushed for Amendment 2, and will now be pushing for the court system to take action.

“We are going to defend that right vigorously and make sure that they get the care that they need,” von Glahn said. “The governor’s actions, anything that the legislature did — does, doesn’t change what the Missouri constitution says, and we’re just going to continue to stand by people, and they’re going to get the justice that they deserve.”

Both Rizzo and von Glahn say a lawsuit will happen, but they’re unsure who will step forward and file it. Rizzo believes the court will uphold the decision, and Medicaid expansion will eventually go forward.

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