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Medicaid expansion lawsuit appealed to Missouri Supreme Court

The Missouri Supreme Court building in Jefferson City.
ABC 17 News
The Missouri Supreme Court building in Jefferson City.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

The lawyers for three women seeking to force Missouri to expand Medicaid eligibility are asking the Missouri Supreme Court to take the case.

The legal team filed a notice of appeal to the state's highest court Thursday after a ruling against them in Cole County court the day before. Judge Jon Beetem ruled Wednesday that expanding eligibility would violate a provision of the state constitution requiring ballot measures that create new programs to include a way to pay for those programs.

Arguments in the lawsuit were heard Monday.

Those eligible under expansion -- estimated at about 275,000 Missourians -- would be able to sign up for the health insurance program for the poor starting July 1 if the state had gone ahead with expansion. Gov. Mike Parson directed his administration not to go through with expansion after the legislature failed to appropriate extra money to cover the newly eligible. He cited the constitutional rule on ballot measures in doing so.

Supporters of expansion argued that the measure didn't create an entirely new program, just expanded eligiblity, and that the state could appropriate money with a supplemental budget.

MO HealthNet, the name of the state's program, has one of the nation's strictest eligibility rules. It does not cover most non-disabled adults without children. Parents are able to qualify if their household income is below 21% of the federal poverty line, which in 2021 is less than $5,000 a year for a family of three.

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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