JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After Republican Missouri lawmakers on the House Budget Committee voted against funding Medicaid expansion last Thursday, Democrats said they aren’t done fighting.
The voter-approved measure would allow around 275,000 additional Missourians to become eligible for Medicaid.
The House is expected to debate the state’s nearly $35 billion budget starting Tuesday. Originally, the bill included $1.6 billion for expansion with the state portion only totaling around $119 million with the rest coming from the federal government.
“That’s 90% of the expansion comes from the federal government. That’s more than $1.4 billion that House Republicans don’t want pumped into Missouri’s economy,” House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) said.
Some Republicans on the House Budget Committee said they were concerned about the funding going towards people with mental and physical disabilities. Democrats said the expansion is happening whether they fund it or not.
“If somebody that’s eligible by the income threshold by the Constitution now applies as of July 1, they will be entitled under the Constitution to Medicaid, so any shortfall that we’re doing in the budget isn’t just going to tell them they can’t get Medicaid, it’s going to be shorting the entire Medicaid system as a whole,” Rep. Peter Merideth (D-St. Louis) said. “We’re just underfunding our health care system as a whole.”
All 20 Republicans on the House Budget Committee voted against the expansion Thursday. The committee’s chairman, Rep. Cody Smith (R-Carthage), said he’s concerned this expansion would help Missourians who don’t want to work.
“By standing up to liberal interest groups, House Republicans have saved Missourians over $100 million in General Revenue in the upcoming fiscal year alone, and billions more in years to come,” Smith said Friday. “Missouri voters will get to decide whether to expand Medicaid health care coverage to thousands of low-income adults.”
Gov. Mike Parson recommended funding the expansion in his budget during his State of the State address. Fifty-three percent of voters approved the expansion in August.
Quade is concerned lawmakers will be forced to return later this year for a special session to implement a supplemental budget to fund the expansion.
After Republicans on the budget committee failed to pass the legislation to fund the expansion Thursday, Smith filed another bill Friday, House Bill 21, to use the money for expansion and put it towards seniors in nursing homes, add public defenders to the criminal justice system and help K-12 school transportation.
“In short, this bill will support the most vulnerable Missourians,” Smith said.
Expanded eligibility goes into effect July 1 for those earning less than $17,600 for an individual or $30,000 for a family of three. Missouri became the 37th state to expand Medicaid.