Northwest Missourian Opinion

Missouri Republicans are rejecting the will of the voters by blocking Medicaid funding despite Missourians voting for the funding through a statewide ballot initiative.

In 2020, Missouri residents also had the chance to vote for a Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. Voters passed this initiative with a 53% majority. Despite this, state Republicans are pushing to block the health care expansion from ever going into action.

This should infuriate any Missouri voter, whether they voted for or against this initiative, because it is a direct attack on democracy in our state. They are going against their very role as legislators, and they don’t even have a good reason for doing it.

“Medicaid expansion is wrong for Missouri. I think it’s wrong for the state budget,” Rep. Cody Smith, R-Jasper County, said. He then argues that the federal government cannot afford to send money to the state to assist in paying for the health care expansion. 

“The federal government has no money — there is only taxpayer dollars,” Smith said. “They are federal deficit spending at a rate that is unprecedented at this point.” 

Federal spending is no concern of a state representative and definitely should not be a reason to go against the will of the people. On top of that, Missouri actually has a surplus in its spending for the next fiscal year. Mike Parson himself anticipates a $1.1 billion surplus in the state budget, which is plenty of money to cover the cost of Medicaid expansion. Missouri will only have to spend $130 million, while the federal government will send the state over $1.5 billion. 

Rep. Doug Richey, R-Excelsior Springs, also argued the state could not afford the expansion and instead wants to use the money for other existing programs, including increasing funding to help elderly people and people with disabilities. However, the proposed budget leaves millions unused with plenty of money left over to expand Medicaid. The most ironic part of Richey’s stance is that he fails to understand that the people who need Medicaid often are elderly and often have a disability.

“For me, it is a very easy decision to make when it comes to prioritizing those who are most vulnerable,” Richey said. Good thing that is the whole point of expanding Medicaid in the first place.

The increased eligibility would allow an estimated 230,000 additional low-income Missourians to be covered, according to the Kansas City Star.

The state will not suffer a huge budget lost from increasing the Medicaid program. It doesn’t matter, though, because all the arguments should be null and void anyway. Missouri representatives are showing they do not care about the will of voters unless it is convenient for them. They just so happen to dismiss that will whenever Missourians put a new law in its constitution that they do not agree with. 

The very thought that a group of lawmakers are even having the conversation, much less acting on the idea of overturning the will of the people is a disgrace to what America stands for. Any lawmaker that pushed to block increased spending should be removed from office because they are no longer representing the majority of Missouri’s population. 

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