The Missouri House Budget Committee, led by Republican legislators who carry a supermajority, voted 20-9 along party lines to deny funding to the Medicaid Expansion. Missouri voters authorized the Medicaid Expansion last August, with just over 53% of voters choosing to back an amendment to the Missouri Constitution that would expand Medicaid eligibility to individuals and families up to 138% of the Federal poverty line. As Missouri’s Medicaid program stands right now, most adults without children are not covered and its income eligibility is one of the lowest in the nation.
Republicans in Missouri have argued that Missouri cannot afford the expense of expanding Medicaid coverage. However, 90% of the funding is provided to states by the Federal government, and many believe that the program may even save Missouri taxpayers money. As reported by NPR, a Washington University in St. Louis study found that over 230,000 Missourians would benefit from the program in a state where over 9% are uninsured. The study also showed that Missouri may save nearly $39 million a year.
Although nearly 1 in 3 rural Republican voters in the August election voted in favor of the expansion, some Republican legislators are distorting the outcome of the election. According to House Rep. Sara Walsh of Ashland “Rural Missouri said no…I don’t believe it is the will of the people to bankrupt our state.” Democratic representatives have responded in force, arguing that with higher than expected state revenues, more than $1.1 billion from the Federal government specifically allocated to the expansion from the latest relief bill, and expected cost saves that Republicans are not following the will of the voters or the facts.
Missouri Democrats plan on re-introducing the funding measure to the broader House floor alongside the rest of the budget presented. However, there is no guarantee that their efforts will be successful. The end result is likely to still result in a funded measure, but whether it is through legislative action or lawsuits remains unclear.