Jefferson City – Gov. Mike Parson said on Nov. 26 that his administration will implement Medicaid eligibility expansion in Missouri if voters approve a ballot measure next year to require the state to do so, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Nov. 27. Parson made his comment in response to a question during a news conference on an unrelated subject.
For more than five years, Missouri Republicans, including Parson, have adamantly opposed expanding Medicaid to 138 percent of the federal poverty level as allowed by the federal Affordable Care Act, which would extend health care access to an estimated 200,000 Missouri who don’t currently have it.
Under the ACA, the federal government will cover 90 percent of the cost of the eligibility expansion.
With no hope of passage in the Republican-controlled General Assembly, supporters of Medicaid expansion, including most of the state’s major medical organizations, are circulating an initiative petition to put the issue on the November 2020 ballot and let Missouri voters directly decide the issue.
“If the people of the state of Missouri – that is their will and they vote to do that – that’s what I’m supposed to do is uphold the will of the people of this state, and that’s what I intend to do regardless of whether I agree with the issue or whether I don’t,” Parson said, according to the paper.
SHARP CONTRAST TO POSITION ON CLEAN MISSOURI AMENDMENT
Parson’s current professed respect for the will of Missouri voters is in sharp contrast to just one year ago when, during a year-end interview with the Associated Press, Parson advocated repealing constitutional reforms to the statehouse redistricting process that Missouri voters had overwhelmingly ratified just weeks earlier in passing the Clean Missouri amendment.
“Fundamentally, you think when the people vote you shouldn’t be changing that vote,” Parson said in the December 2018 AP interview. “But the reality of it is that is somewhat what your job is sometimes, if you know something’s unconstitutional, if you know some of it’s not right.”
Parson’s constitutional problem with the Clean Missouri amendment remains unclear since as a part of the Missouri Constitution, the new redistricting process by definition cannot violate it, and there is no apparent conflict with the federal Constitution.
Republican lawmakers failed in their attempts to pass a Clean Missouri repeal amendment during the 2019 legislative session but are expected to try again in 2020.