(The Center Square) – Twelve health clinics that serve more than 600,000 Missourians have joined the lawsuit challenging the Legislature’s and Gov. Mike Parson’s decision not to fund voter-approved Medicaid expansion.
In a 25-page brief filed Friday, 12 Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (FQHCs) from every region of the state called on the Missouri Supreme Court to order Medicaid expansion to proceed under voter-approved Amendment 2.
“As many as 150,000 of the centers’ (FQHCs) patients could be directly affected by what the court decides in this case,” attorney James Layton argued in the brief.
The case is being heard on appeal by the Supreme Court after Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetem ruled Amendment 2 unconstitutional on June 23 because it didn’t provide a revenue source for Medicaid expansion, which is required under the state’s constitution.
“Amendment 2 indirectly requires the appropriation of revenues not created by the initiative and is therefore unconstitutional,” Beetem wrote, calling any ruling that implements Amendment 2 “court-ordered appropriation.”
The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in the case for July 13.
The lawsuit was filed May 20 on behalf of three women denied access to Medicaid services they would have been eligible for when expansion went into effect July 1.
Stephanie Doyle, Melinda Hille and Autumn Stultz argue they have medical challenges that make Medicaid eligibility “a question of life and death” and being denied coverage “despite the clear directive from voters” to implement Medicaid expansion is unconstitutional.
The 12 community health centers’ brief is the second filed in support of their appeal. Greater St. Louis Inc., a coalition of five economic development organizations representing investors that employ more than 220,000 people in the St. Louis area and generate a combined global revenue of more than $1.16 trillion, filed a 21-page brief on June 30.
“The people have spoken. The plain language of the appropriation bills speaks for itself,” Greater St. Louis’ brief states, noting “MO HealthNet expansion will result in substantial benefits to the state’s economy and business community.”
In his brief on behalf of the 12 community health clinics, Layton said the Supreme Court must order the expansion regardless of the Legislature’s failure to identify a funding source.
“The Medicaid expansion enacted by Missouri voters, to the extent it is funded by appropriations, will allow the federal grant dollars that flow to Missouri’s Community Health Centers to go further in serving others,” he writes. “Those centers will be able to serve more patients, and to offer their patients more essential medical services.”
A fourth party could enter the fray this week with Republican-controlled House leadership expected to file a brief calling on the Supreme Court to reject the appeal, angering Democrats.
“For the House to take an official position on anything requires a majority vote of its elected members, and there has been no vote on a resolution authorizing involvement in this case, even though the House was convened in a special legislative session just days ago and had every opportunity to gauge the will of its members on the subject,” House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said in a statement.
In Springfield Friday to sign the bill that made Missouri the nation’s last state to start collecting an internet sales tax, Gov. Mike Parson told KY3 TV that expansion proponents must make a better case with legislation rather than through litigation.
“Long term, the process is what it is. The Legislature did not fund that and that’s part of the process,” he said. Expansion proponents “are going to have to go back next year and they’re gonna have to see if they can get it to pass. If they don’t, they don’t. And we’ll see what the courts do with it.”