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Medicaid expansion lawsuits fail — but at least one appeal coming

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A pair of lawsuits levied against the Medicaid expansion initiative, set to appear on the August ballot, failed in court Tuesday. And at least one organization plans to appeal the decision. 

United for Missouri and Americans for Prosperity-Missouri (AFP-MO), both conservative advocacy organizations, filed separate lawsuits last week challenging the constitutionality of the initiative petition. Both organizations expressed concern over the revenue needed for the initiative and argued it didn’t properly cite a funding source, pointing to Articles III and IV of the Missouri Constitution. 

However, both suits were resolved Tuesday in the Cole County Circuit Court, with the court finding that the initiative does not violate Missouri law. The ruling said the initiative did not change how the General Assembly appropriates funds nor does it, on its face, appropriate funds. 

Additionally, the court rejected arguments that the ballot initiative amends Article III and Article IV as requiring “an overly broad reading of the initiative to get to that result.”

“We are pleased these frivolous lawsuits have been dismissed, and Missourians will finally have an opportunity on August 4 to support Missouri’s economy by protecting thousands of frontline health care jobs at a time when we need them most,” Healthcare for Missouri campaign manager A.J. Bockelman said in a statement. “Amendment 2 will bring $1 billion of our own tax dollars from Washington annually to keep Missouri’s rural hospitals open and provide crucial care to our local communities.”

But AFP-MO state director Jeremy Cady said his organization plans to appeal the decision. 

“Unconstitutionally forcing the Missouri legislature to appropriate $200 million per year without providing a funding source is why we’re challenging this ballot initiative,” Cady told The Missouri Times. “Article III, Section 51 of our state constitution is clear that any ballot initiative must have a funding source. We are thankful to have the opportunity to present our case to Judge Green and plan to appeal this decision.” 

A representative for United for Missouri did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The measure was moved from the November ballot to August by Gov. Mike Parson last month. Parson has voiced his own concerns about the issue but said he change in ballot date was a matter of economics rather than politics. 

Thirty-six states have already adopted Medicaid expansion measures. The Auditor’s Office estimated expanding Medicaid eligibility would save the state around $1 billion. 

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