Medicaid expansion plan to appear on Missouri ballot

(Source: MGN)
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri voters will get to decide whether to expand Medicaid health care coverage to thousands of low-income adults.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said Friday that the initiative had received more than enough petition signatures from registered voters to be placed on the November ballot. It will be known as Constitutional Amendment 2.

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.

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.

Missouri's Republican-led Legislature had repeatedly rejected Medicaid expansion proposals over the past decade, which prompted supporters to turn to the initiative process. By proposing a constitutional amendment instead of a new law, supporters have ensured that lawmakers will be unable to change it without going back to voters.

Ashcroft, a Republican, said he chose to verify the petition signatures by random sampling rather than sending the petitions to local election officials for verification. He said local officials were busy preparing for the June 2 municipal elections, which were delayed from April because of the coronavirus, and he didn't want to burden them with more work.