Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

“Today’s victory will be a true turning point in the history of the Show Me State.”

Missouri voters on Tuesday approved expanding Medicaid to many of the state’s poorest adults—despite a lawsuit supported by their Republican leadership to sink the Affordable Care Act amid the pandemic. On average, Missouri reports 1,200 new cases of coronavirus infection a day, up almost three times from a month ago, and has lost more than 1,333 people to the virus since the pandemic began, according to a New York Times database

“As Medicaid expansion is fully and expeditiously implemented so that Missourians are no longer forced to choose between putting food on the table and seeing a doctor, today’s victory will be a true turning point in the history of the Show Me State,” A.J. Bockelman, the pro-Medicaid campaign manager, told Missouri media.

More than half of Missouri voters—that is, 53%—moved to expand the Medicaid program to cover about 230,000 additional low-income residents. The state’s existing Medicaid program was already overtaxed due to an enrollment surge: Missouri saw a 9% rise in enrollment between February and May, one of the nation’s largest increases. The federal government provides 90% of funding for Medicaid expansion, far outstripping the 65% rate Missouri receives for its existing program.

RELATED: Republicans Still Want to Take Health Care Away From 20 Million Americans—in the Middle of a Pandemic

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican facing re-election this year, opposed the ballot measure, saying the state couldn’t afford the coverage expansion. He switched the vote on the proposal from the Nov. 3 election to Tuesday’s primary—detractors say to make it easier to defeat, as midterm elections typically see lower participation. 

The maneuvering failed, and Missouri became the sixth GOP-led state where voters circumvented Republican leaders to back the ACA. Oklahoma did the same just weeks ago. Now only 12 states, mostly Republican-led, have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA.

“Missourians are sick and tired of not getting their fair share. They pay their taxes, they’ve seen now 37 other states use that money to expand access to health care. Meanwhile, our economy’s clearly ailing here,” Jack Cardetti, the campaign’s spokesperson, said last week.

The vote on expanding access to health care comes just two months after Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt joined other GOP leaders in Just to sign a Supreme Court brief to invalidate the entire ACA, despite the state’s increasing number of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. President Donald Trump has vowed to terminate the landmark healthcare reform law that gave coverage to millions of Americans—even as the country navigates a devastating global health crisis.

RELATED: The GOP Wants to Repeal the ACA During a Pandemic. Democrats Are Trying to Expand Coverage.

Missouri voters on Tuesday leaned left with a number of political choices. Cori Bush, who rose to prominence via her activism following a fatal police shooting of a Black teen in Ferguson, ousted establishment incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay to win the 1st District Democratic primary. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who has been praised by civil rights activists and criticized by President Donald Trump, also emerged victorious.