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Judge: MO HealthNet must enroll all eligible under Medicaid expansion

KC Medicaid expansion rally
Medicaid-Expansion-Missouri
Posted at 10:24 AM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 11:59:29-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Medicaid expansion has arrived in Missouri after being delayed six weeks after residents sued the state, which initially refused to implement the voter-approved program.

The approximately 275,000 Missouri residents now eligible to enroll in MO HealthNet after voters expanded eligibility for the state’s Medicaid program last August can begin signing up for coverage despite ongoing objections from the state.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon E. Beetum — who initially ruled Medicaid expansion to be unconstitutional, only to have the Missouri Supreme Court reverse his decisionissued an order Tuesday that bars Missouri from prohibiting newly eligible individuals from signing up for MO HealthNet.

Beetum’s order also prohibits the state “from imposing any greater or additional burdens or restrictions on eligibility or enrollment standards, methodologies, or practices on individuals” covered by Medicaid expansion.

MO HealthNet and the Family Support Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services also are required to post Beetum’s order and judgment on their website.

“With today’s court order, Medicaid eligibility is finally expanded in Missouri, as its voters mandated and its people deserve," House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, a Springfield Democrat, said in a statement. "There can be no more excuses and no more delays in implementation. Expansion not only will make our state healthier, the infusion of billions of additional federal Medicaid dollars will boost our economy. And this will happen without a tax increase and without cuts to other state services.”

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sought to have Medicaid expansion declared unconstitutional after the state legislature refused to provide funding for the expansion, which Missouri voters passed in August 2020.

The federal government will pay 90% of the coverage costs for new enrollees under Medicaid expansion, which was supposed to take effect July 1.