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Springfield woman, who filed lawsuit on Medicaid expansion, explains what new ruling means to her

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 10:18 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Missouri Supreme Court unanimously ruled Medicaid expansion in Missouri to be constitutional, weeks after the state did not initially move forward with expansion.

Voters approved a measure in August 2020 to allow more than 250,000 Missourians to become eligible for Medicaid. A Springfield woman and two others filed a lawsuit through the Cole County Circuit Court when expansion did not initially take effect as planned.

Autumn Stultz is one of the women who filed a lawsuit against the state fighting for Medicaid expansion. She says Thursday’s ruling from the Missouri Supreme Court was significant.

“We’re not looking for a handout, we’re looking for a hand up,” said Stultz.

Stultz is one of many Missourians who will qualify for Medicaid under the Medicaid Expansion plan that voters approved last August. The expansion was supposed to take effect on July 1, but was blocked after lawmakers claimed the funding wasn’t in the budget.

“Personally, I have a lot of health issues that need to be addressed, and I can’t afford to go through the marketplace,” said Stultz.

Stultz has Asthma, Thyroid disease, and anxiety. Without Medicaid expansion, she is unable to afford her medications.

“I mean that’s 90 bucks out of pocket for an inhaler, and I mean, I’ve got other money that’s got to go to other stuff. I can’t afford an inhaler,” said Stultz.

Without the necessary medications, Stultz is dependent on home remedies. And if those don’t work, she would have to call an ambulance and go to the emergency room. Now, she is hoping that Medicaid expansion will provide preventative care.

After legislators failed to fund the expansion, Stultz and two other women filed a lawsuit in Cole County against the state of Missouri. The judge ruled against Medicaid expansion, claiming the amendment passed by voters violated the state’s constitution because it did not assign specific funding to the expansion.

”I was angry, I was flat out angry that our government would back door us Missourians.”

Thursday the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the amendment passed by voters did not violate the state constitution, overturning the lower court ruling.

“I’m grateful for the ruling. I’m grateful that our Missourians are finally getting the break that they truly deserve and need so that we can get back out in the workforce and get our health back to where we should have it,” said Stultz.

The Missouri Supreme Court sent the case back to Cole County Circuit Court and instructed the judge to enter a judgment in favor of those who sought expansion of the program.

We reached out to several legislators who voted against Medicaid expansion for comment, but did not hear back Thursday.

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