A small restoration, but a restoration nonetheless of a portion of the Medicaid cuts approved by the legislature in 2005 wins approval in the House.
Democrats have harshly criticized Republicans for years for the 2005 cuts. Rep. Margaret Donnelly (D-St. Louis) makes light of the budget turn-around Republicans tout, saying they did it by cutting health care for the poor.
"The surplus that has built up was done on the backs of the poor, the elderly, the disabled and children," Donnelly tells colleagues during House floor debate on the budget.
Republicans respond they had to take drastic action and contend the new MO HealthNet meets the needs of the poor in a fiscally responsible manner.
An aggressive attempt by Democrats to shift money in the $22.4 billion state budget approved by the House Budget Committee to restore most of the 2005 Medicaid cuts fell short of passage on a party-line 61-to-88 vote. A less ambitious plan to restore dental and vision care cut in 2005 drew much more support, yet also failed on a 74-to-78 vote.
Democrats succeed on the third attempt. Donnelly successfully sponsors an amendment to shift slightly more than two million dollars to restore physician-ordered therapies, such as physical therapy, to MO HealthNet.
Her idea gets a boost when Republican Rep. Wayne Cooper of Osage Beach, a doctor, rises to support it, stating during debate that the therapies are services that are not truly optional.
"I believe that to provide proper therapy for patients, they need to receive physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy as they need them," Cooper tells the body during debate on the amendment.
Cooper also says the state will be able to draw down $4.6 million in federal funds if the money for therapies is restored.
The House is expected to take a final vote on the budget today