UMKC law professor explains decision to expand Medicaid in Missouri

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Missouri judge has determined that the voter-approved Medicaid expansion amendment not only failed to know how the expansion would be paid for, but that people lack the power to tell the legislature how to spend state money, according to a University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor.

“He therefore takes the position that he is not going to order it, that a court does not have this authority,” Ann Marie Marciarille, professor at the UMKC law school, said of the decision. from Cole County Judge Jon Beetem. “Also, not only did the people in the way this amendment was drafted lack the power. It doesn’t have the power to say to the legislature, ‘OK, now you’re going to use your appropriation power. this way .'”

On the flip side, she said voters aren’t telling lawmakers exactly how to spend their money because there is already money budgeted for Medicaid, much of it coming from the federal government.

Beetem’s ruling said Governor Mike Parson and state lawmakers can refuse to find a way to pay for the expansion of Medicaid. Missouri voters approved the expansion, which was due to go into effect next month, in August, but lawmakers never funded it.

Beetem ruled the law was never broken because the approved amendment did not state how the state would pay for the expansion.
Those behind the lawsuit plan to appeal.

The expansion would simply have allowed more people, including those who are single and in low-income jobs, to access Medicaid.

Marcirille also said that not only will it likely go to the state’s Supreme Court, but the whole country is monitoring this issue, as it could set a precedent for referendums in the future and how voters can influence how the funds are spent.

“I think it’s important enough that people across the country are talking about this opinion and following it up to the appeal level,” Marciarille said. “It’s not just some obscure Missouri constitutional law (although there are elements of it.) It’s about, ‘So how do people make changes by referendum if they aren’t. not able to go through the traditional legislative process? Which is really the backstory here. Why did the people behind Amendment 2 go to the referendum? It is because the other means did not work. “

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