Missouri Lawmakers Ignore Voters’ Approval of Medicaid Expansion

May 17, 2021

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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced on Thursday, May 13, that he will not expand Medicaid, regardless of the state Constitution that requires expansion after voters approved the measure in a statewide ballot referendum in 2020. The ballot measure passed 53.7% to 46.73% in a constitutional amendment referendum on Aug. 4, 2020. The Missouri General Assembly declined to appropriate funds in the state budget for expansion of the state’s Medicaid program

The REACH Foundation has long supported consumer education and advocacy on the issue of Medicaid expansion as a well-studied, fiscally sound policy that improves health coverage and health outcomes.

Read the statement from Brenda Sharpe, President and CEO:

“The 2021 Missouri Legislative session ended on an unacceptable note last week. Legislators and the Governor ignored Missouri voters’ resounding 2020 call to expand Medicaid–a decision that has cost the state and its taxpayers billions of dollars, further stalling out an economy and workforce already severely weakened by a pandemic. Worse, this ill-considered and unethical decision prevents thousands of Missourians from obtaining lifesaving, affordable health insurance coverage and denies them access to quality care.

The REACH Foundation remains firm in our support for this common sense, humanitarian and fiscally sound health policy. Other states that passed expansion offer an array of guidance for how Missouri could still proceed. And the American Rescue Plan now provides additional financial incentives to help states cover low-income populations that don’t have access to coverage options through their jobs or to subsidized plans through the health insurance marketplace.

But Missourians should not only be concerned about the state allowing their hard-earned and already-paid federal taxes going out the door to more than three dozen states that already moved forward with expansion. They should also note that the Legislature ignored and defied a constitutional and voter-approved ballot initiative, while actively passing measures to restrict voters’ future ability to take action when their elected officials fail to act in constituents’ best interests. There is far more than Medicaid expansion at stake here and we should not be naïve as to the implications for democracy.

It’s past time for road blocks – Missourians need to speak up for their approved constitutional right today.”



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