The Missouri Supreme Court Thursday unanimously reversed a lower court decision that found the state’s Medicaid expansion unconstitutional.
The high court overruled Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem’s decision that upended the long-running push to add as many as 275,000 low-income Missourians to the government-run health insurance program.
In doing so, the court called Medicaid expansion “valid,” paving the way for the Missouri Department of Social Services to resubmit an application to the federal government outlining its plan to serve the additional enrollees
“The Supreme Court has now spoken and decided that our clients are eligible for coverage,” said attorney Chuck Hatfield, who represented three women who brought the lawsuit.
The move puts the state in a position to receive a 90% match from the federal government to help pay for the added coverage.
“There should be a huge infusion of money immediately,” Hatfield said.
Groups favoring expansion, which was one part of former President Barack Obama’s signature achievements, hailed the ruling.
“As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Missourians across the state will finally be able to realize the health and economic benefits of Medicaid expansion. State after state has shown that in addition to providing insurance to those eligible, expansion is a fiscal and economic boon to state economies and budgets,” said Amy Blouin of the Missouri Budget Project.
“This decision restores faith in our democracy and that the power of the people will continue to prevail over political grandstanding. For more than a decade, we have called upon lawmakers in Jefferson City to do the right thing and expand Medicaid,” said Caitlyn Adams, executive director of Missouri Jobs for Justice.
The matter now heads back to Beetem. Based on the Supreme Court’s ruling, it is expected he will direct DSS to begin making preparations for expanding coverage to more adults, regardless of whether the estimated $1.9 billion cost was included in the state budget by the Legislature and Gov. Mike Parson.
A Parson spokesperson said his office was preparing a response to the decision.
The legal action came after the Republican-led House and Senate voted against funding the voter-approved expansion in May, resulting in Parson withdrawing an application with the federal government outlining the more inclusive program.