Missouri voters enshrined Medicaid expansion into the state constitution in 2020 by a majority vote in a rebuke of Republican opposition, but now Republicans are blocking the will of the voters by claiming that “rural” voters are somehow more important.

Medicaid expansion would be mostly paid for by the federal government under the Affordable Care Act, and would cover hundreds of thousands of Missourians who can’t afford traditional health insurance. But Republicans have been refusing to expand it for years, which is why Missouri voters acted in 2020.

Again, Medicaid expansion is now an amendment in the state constitution, so lawmakers must adhere to the will of the people. But Republicans have apparently decided that the will of the minority vote matters more.

According to the Kansas City Star:

Republican lawmakers blocked Medicaid expansion funding from reaching the Missouri House floor on Wednesday, posing a setback for the voter-approved plan to increase eligibility for the state health care program. The House Budget Committee voted along party lines not to pass a bill allowing Missouri to spend $130 million of state funds and $1.6 billion in federal money to pay for the program’s expansion. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government picks up 90% of the tab on expanding Medicaid.

The expanded eligibility would allow estimated 230,000 additional low-income Missourians to be covered. It is set to go into effect in July after voters approved a ballot question last August with a 53% majority.

GOP state Rep. Sara Walsh excused blocking the funding by claiming that “rural” voters opposed the amendment.

“Rural Missouri said no,” she claimed. “I don’t believe it is the will of the people to bankrupt our state.”

Except the will of Missouri voters, 53 percent of them, voted in favor of Medicaid expansion. That includes me, a rural Missouri voter. Republicans don’t just get to overturn an amendment because they don’t like the result of the vote. This is a red state that voted FOR Medicaid expansion. If Republicans actually cared about the health of Missourians or about democracy they would be enthusiastically passing this funding. But they just proved that they only care about their voters and minority rule instead, making it clear that they must be ousted from the legislature and the governor’s mansion next election. Maybe then they’ll start caring about the actual will of the people again.

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