KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Supreme Court has cleared the way for the expansion of Medicaid in the state, but what comes next?
State Democrats say soon some-270,000 more people will presumptively be enrolled in the system. But Republicans are still waiting to see what happens next.
By next Friday, the state may file a motion for rehearing with the Missouri Supreme Court. That likely will be denied based on the fact that court ruled unanimously in their decision.
In a few weeks the original circuit court in Cole County will make a new ruling considering this decision from the Supreme Court. The Missouri Attorney General’s Office may make a new argument but right now they are not commenting.
Missouri State Representative Richard Brown (D-Kansas City) said the expansion of Medicaid has been important to him his whole political career.
“When you talk about healthcare, I know what it’s like to be in the situation where they say you make too much money but you really don’t,” Brown said, reflecting on his wife and daughter who both passed away after long issues with their health.
Voters approved the Medicaid expansion last August bypassing a constitutional amendment with 53% of the vote.
Republicans, with Governor Mike Parson, opted not to fund the expansion and argued that the amendment did not set aside funding.
But the Missouri Supreme Court disagreed, handing down their decision on Thursday judges wrote that as long as the assembly maintains discretion in funding “an initiative that simply costs money to implement does not necessarily require the appropriation of funds.”
The governor’s office put out a statement saying: “We are looking at what options may be available to us to seek additional budget authority and also pursuing legal clarity.”
Brown shared his frustration with how the Medicaid expansion has progressed.
“I continue to ask myself ‘Why am I fighting to get Medicaid for people of the state when their representatives that they voted for won’t even fight for ’em?’ But I’m fighting for them so make sure that they’re getting the healthcare they wanted to have,” Brown said.
Brown also said it is his belief that people can presumptively be enrolled into Medicaid.
“Looking forward, the money is there and we’re going to put the people on these Medicaid rolls,” Brown said.
The Missouri Supreme Court also wrote that the budget line for Medicaid does not differentiate between current and future Medicaid recipients.
To Democrats that signals that the funding issue might not need to be decided in a special session.