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Gov. Mike Parson’s administration will allow those newly eligible for Medicaid coverage to enroll in the state-run program, his office said in a news release Wednesday.

The announcement follows a Cole County judge’s order Tuesday directing the state to begin implementation of voter-approved Medicaid expansion, which 53% of voters backed in August 2020.

“My administration is always going to follow the law and yesterday’s court order is no exception,” Parson said, echoing comments he made shortly after Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued his ruling.

Parson said a lingering issue is securing adequate funding for Medicaid. With expansion, an estimated 275,000 additional Missourians could gain coverage.

The Republican governor said he included enough money in his proposed fiscal year 2022 budget to cover those newly eligible for coverage and to pay for 75 more employees to run the program. But the GOP-led Legislature, refusing to fund Medicaid expansion, shifted those funds to other purposes.

The news release said that because of the Legislature’s action, the Department of Social Services will be tasked with running the program without adequate resources.

“The necessary funding to cover the healthcare costs of the expanded population remains the issue,” Parson said. “We will continue to work with the General Assembly and DSS to chart a path forward to comply with the court order and keep the MO HealthNet program solvent.” 

The governor’s office said individuals may apply for Medicaid at MyDSS.MO.gov.

The expanded population includes adults ages 19 to 64 who make less than 138% of the poverty level, or about $18,000 per year for an individual.

The release said the department would reassign employees to work through new applications to comply with the Cole County order, and said it would begin to determine eligibility when the state updates its software.

The release said the update could take two months, but that “qualifying healthcare costs that are incurred by eligible Missourians between the time they apply and when DSS is able to verify their eligibility may be reimbursed at a later date.”

Before Medicaid expansion, adults without children weren’t eligible for Medicaid unless they were disabled. Adults with children were eligible if their household income was less than about 16% of the federal poverty guideline.

In all, Medicaid in Missouri costs about $12 billion a year, but much of that cost is paid by the federal government.

Medicaid expansion is estimated to cost $1.9 billion a year, but the federal government will pay for all but about $130 million.

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