The Missouri legislative body is advancing on an additional effort to avoid funding the expansion of Medicaid.
Missouri residents voted to pass the expansion of Medicaid in 2020, and since then the state Senate has looked to battle the funding and has taken additional steps forward.
The Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee voted to move forward with a bill passed convincingly by the House to send a proposition back to the voters that would allow the general assembly to make budget decisions regarding Medicaid spending.
This year the state is mandated to budget the dollars for nearly 275,000 Missourians who qualify for the expanded coverage. Currently, the federal government is funding 95% of the cost. State Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, said that while the federal government is paying a large majority, he believes the state should have the option to adjust budgeting if the split of payment shifts to require the state to budget more dollars.
“Many of us believe that was a usurpation of the legislative branch powers to be able to appropriate and to put funds where we need to in a current-day situation,” Hegeman said.
State Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, said the legislature has been debating this issue for more than a decade before Missourians collected signatures and said that the general assembly should respect the will of the voters.
“I think any attempt to undo what the voters approved is disrespectful. There are a lot of people, working people, who hope to have access to health care through Medicaid, and any sort of attempt to undo the will of the voters after the Supreme Court has weighed in on this issue … people are going to be less healthy,” Arthur said.
As previously reported by News-Press NOW in February, an article showcased that signups for Medicaid expansion have lagged since the expansion. Northwest Health Services Medicaid enrollment coordinators said they were seeing long waits for Medicaid expansion approval.
Arthur said while it is legal for the Senate to pass this resolution and put the measure back to the voters, she does not believe it is right.
“I think that this is just another creative way to ensure that Missourians who are basically the working poor won’t have access to health care, even though they desperately need it,” Arthur said.
The bill now in the Senate is House Joint Resolution 117. Hegeman said there are about four weeks left in the session, and he said he believes the bill will be talked about on the Senate floor. His immediate worry as budget chairman is getting the budget passed through.