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Today, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson stands in the hospital door, refusing entrance to Missouri’s working poor and middle class.
His decision Thursday to abandon Medicaid expansion, coming just days after cutting off federal unemployment benefits, confirms the obvious: Parson despises lower income Missourians, and everyone who votes.
We had hoped for better. Now, the courts will have to set him straight.
The Republican governor said Thursday he will withdraw the state’s request to adjust its Medicaid program to accommodate an expansion. “I always said that I would uphold the ballot amendment if it passed,” Parson said in a statement. Yes, he always said that, but now has done the opposite.
“Without a revenue source or funding authority from the General Assembly,” he said, “we are unable to proceed with the expansion at this time.”
That claim is simply untrue. Even some Republicans in the General Assembly say there is enough money to expand Medicaid for several months until lawmakers can revisit their absurd decision to not pay for what voters told them to pay for.
Missourians should be absolutely clear. The state’s constitution requires eligible Missourians, up to 133% of the federal poverty level, to be enrolled in Medicaid on July 1. Anything less is a violation of Parson’s sworn oath to uphold the Missouri Constitution.
The governor is now preventing more than quarter million Missourians from getting the health insurance their neighbors believe they are entitled to.
Parson’s flip-flop is a surprise. He opposed Medicaid expansion when it was on the ballot last year, but promised to implement it if voters approved the measure. His budget this year included Medicaid expansion, without a tax increase or cuts to other state programs.
But state lawmakers thrust a big middle finger at the voters by refusing to include the spending in the budget. “I am proud stand against the will of the people,” said state Rep. Justin Hill.
The state’s motto reads: “The will of the people is the supreme law.” Parson has now joined Hill and his colleagues in spitting on that promise.
This is not about money. Missouri has more than enough money to expand Medicaid, and the federal government is writing checks to make expansion even easier.
This is about a systemic, fundamental belief by Parson and his colleagues that poor people don’t deserve help, that they’re getting something for nothing, that they should return to low-paying, no-benefit jobs so their campaign donors can resume getting rich.
Missourians must now turn to the courts. Judges will have to say what must be said: Government cannot ignore the state constitution because they don’t like it.
Taxpayers in Missouri paid billions of dollars over many years to remedy decades of unconstitutional discrimination in education. Taxpayers will face a similar bill for this ineptitude. It’s beyond ridiculous.
Parson’s decision — prompted, no doubt, by last-minute political maneuvering — brings this session of the Missouri legislature close to adjournment. Lawmakers have done enormous damage to people who need help. Gov. Mike Parson could have stopped them, but will not.
Now judges will have to govern.