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Second lawsuit filed against Missouri Medicaid expansion

May 27, 2020 GMT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Conservative advocacy group United for Missouri on Wednesday announced it’s suing to take a proposal to expand Medicaid health care eligibility to thousands more low-income adults off the Aug. 4 ballot.

The limited-government group’s lawsuit against the Secretary of State’s office claims the proposal would expand the government health insurance program without coming up with a funding source to pay for that.

“The costs to cover Medicaid expansion will come directly off the top of the budget without any regard to available funds and the legislature will have absolutely no discretion over this spending,” United for Missouri senior adviser Ryan Johnson said in a statement.

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The director of Americans for Prosperity-Missouri announced Tuesday that he has filed a similar lawsuit.

Missouri’s Medicaid program currently does not cover most adults without children, and it’s income eligibility threshold for parents is one of the lowest in the nation at about one-fifth of the poverty level.

The ballot proposal would expand eligibility under the terms of the 2010 federal health care law signed by President Barack Obama. That law provides a higher-than-usual federal funding share for states that expand Medicaid coverage to adults earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level, about $17,600 for an individual or $30,000 for a family of three.

The spokesman for Healthcare for Missouri on Wednesday said the Medicaid expansion campaign will “aggressively” intervene to fight the lawsuits.

“Filing frivolous lawsuits to prevent Missourians from expanding health care, protecting jobs and keeping rural hospitals open at a time when these issues are more important than ever is a new low -- even for special interest lawyers,” spokesman Jack Cardetti said in a statement. “This attempt to take away the right of all Missourians to vote will not work. It’s simply a last-ditch effort by people who know they cannot win in the court of public opinion.”

Thirty-six states have adopted Medicaid expansion measures.

Supporters estimate 230,000 additional adults would enroll in Missouri’s Medicaid program, if voters approve the expansion.

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