JEFFERSON CITY- The Missouri House voted Thursday against funding Medicare expansion in a new budget proposal.

The proposal passed despite Missouri voters approving of Medicare expansion, voting in favor of Amendment 2 last year.

"We’re disappointed in this week’s action in the House," Missouri Hospital Association spokesperson Dave Dillon said in a statement to KOMU 8 News on Friday. "But, more importantly, nearly 54% of Missourians approved the amendment in August 2020, and according to our research, that number has grown."

While the House chose not to fund the expansion, the initiative is not dead.

"[The Senate] can choose to pass it, or they can choose to put the expansion back into the Department of Social Services appropriations bill," Washington University in St Louis professor Tim McBride said.

McBride said the Senate will likely approve funding Medicaid expansion, falling in line with Governor Parson's promise to respect the will of the voters.

Even if the Senate doesn't approve the expansion, that doesn't mean it won't happen.

"It appears to me that the voters have spoken and it's now in the Constitution," McBride said. "By July 1st we have to expand Medicaid."

But if the expansion isn't funded, that could leave the state in a financial conundrum.

"We may have this interesting situation where people start signing up for Medicaid expansion, but the state will not have appropriated money," McBride said.

On top of that, not funding expansion means leaving over a billion dollars on the table.

"With the new American Recovery Act that was passed by Congress," McBride said, "The federal government is saying 'If you want to expand Medicaid we'll give you 1.15 billion dollars over two years, in addition to the 90% federal match.'"

The money available from the federal government would more than cover the cost of Medicaid expansion in Missouri.

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