A Missouri judge says Gov. Mike Parson can no longer deny Medicaid health care to thousands more newly eligible adults.

Cole County Judge Jon Beetem issued the order Tuesday. Missouri voters in 2020 approved the constitutional amendment making more low-income adults eligible for the government health care program.

But Republican Gov. Mike Parson refused to implement the amendment after the GOP-led Legislature didn’t provide any funding. The latest ruling is a major victory for supporters of Medicaid expansion. It remains unclear how the state will pay for health care for the newly eligible recipients.

The Legislature may have to hold a special session to set aside more money for Medicaid.

In response, according to a statement released by Gov. Parson Wednesday, the Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) will begin allowing individuals to apply for the MO HealthNet program under Article IV, Section 36(c) of the Missouri Constitution.

"My administration is always going to follow the law and yesterday's court order is no exception," Governor Mike Parson said. "The necessary funding to cover the health care costs of the expanded population remains the issue. 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."

Missouri voters approved Medicaid expansion, the Supreme Court of Missouri held the expansion amendment to be constitutional, and the trial court has ordered the state not to prohibit enrollment. The expansion amendment also legally requires the state to maximize federal funding. DSS will continue to work towards fulfilling the state's legal obligations under the Constitution and court order.

Randy Kirby