JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Social Services withdrew its plan to expand Medicare and Medicaid.
It comes less than a year after Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing more people in the state to qualify for the aid.
The expansion came with an estimated cost of nearly $2 billion, and Gov. Mike Parson said he included the suggested funds in his annual budget proposal. Lawmakers said there was no way to fund it and approved the annual budget without money for the expansion.
“The majority of Missouri voters supported it, and we included funds for the expansion in our budget proposal,” Parson said. “However, without a revenue source or funding authority from the General Assembly, we are unable to proceed with the expansion at this time.”
In a statement, Parson pointed to an opinion from the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District about the ballot proposal. The judge’s opinion, which came in two months before the vote, stated that the voters’ majority decision was ultimately subject to whether legislators chose to fund it.
“The circuit court properly concluded that the Proposed Measure neither purported to appropriate existing funds nor implicated the Governor’s role in the appropriation process,” Judge Mark Pfieiffer wrote in the appeal opinion. “The circuit court also properly treated the Proposed Measure as an amendment to MO HealthNet’s eligibility criteria, subject to the legislature’s appropriation power.”
Since there wasn’t a plan to fund the ballot initiative and Missouri lawmakers declined to find a way to fund it, the state doesn’t have the authority to move ahead with expanding Medicaid at this time, according to a news release from Parson’s office.