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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

Voter-Approved Medicaid Expansion Plan Approved By Missouri Supreme Court

  Missouri's Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in favor of the voter-approved Medicaid expansion plan, expanding its low-income health care program, MO HealthNet, to offering medicaid to roughly 275,000 additional Missourians.


MO HealthNet has one of the nation's strictest eligibility rules, and does not include coverage for most non-disabled adults without children. Parents are able to qualify if their household income is below 21% of the federal poverty line, which in 2021 is less than $5,000 a year for a family of three.


In June Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ruled in favor of the state’s decisions, arguing that the constitution's prohibition on voter-approved amendments creating new programs without funding meant expansion could not go forward. 


Those that supported the expansion argued the vote didn't create a new program, but rather expanded one that already existed, which the legislature was bound to fund.


The high courts overruled the lower courts striking down the original ballot measure, requiring implementation of expansion coverage by July 1, 2021 and approving that the state must enroll people who are eligible under the measure — individuals that make up to $17,800 a year.


Lowell Pearson, attorney for the three women seeking notable for inspiring the state-wide conversation says the ruling is a big deal for the working poor in Missouri.


“Many of them are working in non-benefit jobs. So the whole goal of expansion to provide health care for those people. And that provides a lot of benefits,” said Pearson.


While it will take additional time for the medicaid plan to work its way through the system, Missourians qualified for the program may be able to start signing up around August.


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