Medicaid expansion narrowly passes in Missouri

As they wore masks to protect against COVID-19 at the polls, voters in the state narrowly passed expansion of health care Tuesday, Aug. 4, for low-income Missourians. According to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s Office, “yes” votes for Medicaid expansion accounted for 51.7% of the 1,203,005 votes cast on the ballot question. In Clay County, voters passed the measure with nearly 61% of the 44,475 votes cast.

Missouri voters narrowly decided Tuesday, Aug. 4 to expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of additional low-income residents after years of resistance from GOP state leaders.

The vote came as confirmed coronavirus cases continue to rise in the state. According to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s Office, “yes” votes accounted for 51.7% of the 1,203,005 votes cast on the ballot question. “No” votes accounted for roughly 48.3% of votes cast on the issue. In Clay County, voters passed the measure with nearly 61% of the 44,475 votes cast in favor of expansion.

“Missouri just voted to expand Medicaid, and now, because of your vote, over 230,000 hardworking people will have access to life-saving health care. For years, Missourians have wanted to expand access to health care, so we decided to get it done ourselves with a question on the ballot,” reads a social media post from Yes on 2: Healthcare For Missouri, a coalition committed to expanding access to health care. “We worked with incredible organizations, leaders and volunteers across the state to collect enough signatures to get it on the ballot and then win. So many people worked to get this done. Thanks to grassroots supporters, we had 105,150 conversations with voters, dialed over 1 million phone numbers, sent 201,392 texts and traveled 13,000 miles on the road. … From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much to everyone who made this happen from voters to volunteers. Today, we saved lives.”

Missouri’s Republican-led General Assembly repeatedly rejected Medicaid expansion proposals over the past decade, prompting supporters to turn to the initiative process. Opponents to expansion said program costs may increase to an unknown amount in years to come and the state’s coffers are already overburdened.

According to information from the Missouri Department of Social Services, expanding Medicaid could cost the state $200 million annually. With Amendment 2 approved, a federal match would mean the state would only be required to pay 10% of the costs with the federal government paying for 90%.

Currently, families with dependent children are eligible for Medicaid health care coverage in Missouri if they earn up to 22% of the federal poverty level, around $4,700 per year for a three-person household. Adults without children aren’t eligible. With expansion, that eligibility rises to 138% of the poverty level, about $35,500 annually per family. Expansion also allows childless individuals to enroll if they earn less than about $18,000 per year.