Missouri is one of 20 states that opted out of the expansion, which would make people who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level eligible for the program, funded at about 90 percent by the federal government.
The Senate, while not technically recessed, was declared "at ease" around 11:30 a.m. as protesters chanted "Medicaid Expansion! Do it now!" and police began to remove them. Normal business resumed about 50 minutes later.
Capitol Police spokesman Mike O'Connell said 23 people were arrested, but they were not handcuffed and not taken to police headquarters.
"We believe it is our role as citizens and faith leaders of this state to hold you accountable to this sacred covenant," protest organizer Andrew Kling said, in a letter distributed to senators explaining the demonstration.
Progress Missouri, a progressive group that helped organize the protest, posted audio of the what it said was the moment protesters chanting forced the Senators to stop.
Protestors in Senate pic.twitter.com/2cA4vhbJ4G— Jonathan Shorman (@jshormanNL) May 6, 2014