OPINION

More foot-dragging by the state on Medicaid

The Examiner

Marvin Sands, Independence

To the editor:

I’ve written about this subject many times and still finding myself dazed by the inadequacies of our state officials and their lack of concern for our state’s poorest citizens. In August 2020 voters approved Medicaid expansion for the state of Missouri by a 53% majority, thus making it a constitutional mandate.

But Governor Mike Parson and the General Assembly couldn’t handle such a tirade and claimed, incorrectly, that the mandate did not include a funding provision and thus was not a mandate and that only the General Assembly could provide funding mechanisms – not the voters. Proponents for Medicaid expansion obviously and correctly disagreed and said we’ll pursue out next step in the courts.

So a motion was filed in the circuit court in Jefferson City asking the judge to rule in favor of the motion and cause the constitutional amendment to take hold and all the provisions of Medicaid expansion to leap forward on July 1, 2021 as required. Unfortunately the judge, like the General Assembly and the governor, just couldn’t bring himself to terms with the Constitution and ruled in favor of the state and against the claimants.

So now the next move is to the Missouri State Supreme Court. A motion was filed asking all seven jurists to rule in favor of the claimants and against the state and finally set in motion all the provisions of the constitutional order for Medicaid expansion to occur. After a few days of deliberations the Supreme Court did indeed rule unanimously that the Missouri Constitution should prevail and Medicaid expansion would now move forward expeditiously.

So with that ruling intact the next move is to forward that back to the circuit court for all the details to be hashed out so enrollment can begin no later than Aug. 1, even though the Constitution says July 1. As of this writing the slow-acting circuit court judge who got his hands slapped by the Supreme Court finally figured out what to do next even though the process really wasn’t that difficult. In other words this amounted to nothing more than a delaying tactic by the judge and probably the General Assembly.

Meanwhile 275,000 of Missouri’s poorest citizens continued to wait while that circuit court judge got off his thumbs and caused Medicaid expansion to finally take effect after years and years of waiting.

And yes, there is more than enough funding for Medicaid expansion to take effect without cuts to other budgets or programs.