Emotional, heated, and harsh all describe debate on the House floor as the House rejects a proposed expansion of Medicaid contained in the social services budget bill.
Republicans in the House use their majority muscle to defeat HB 11, the social services budget bill that contained an expansion of Medicaid. The proposed expansion relied on an increase in the tax paid by Missouri hospitals. The $52.6 million raised through the increased hospital tax would be used to draw down $94.2 million in federal funds to provide coverage for Missourians making up to 50% of the federal poverty level, approximately 35,000 more Missourians.
Despite the fact that the proposal relied on an increase hospital tax, not an increase in General Revenue dollars, Republicans attacked it as an unnecessary expansion of Welfare.
Opposition by Republicans to HB 11 was well known prior to the bill coming to the floor for debate.
Rep. Mary Still, a Democrat from Columbia, noted the packed chamber prior to the vote.
"And it as if the majority party has come in for the kill," Still said of Republicans. "And it turns my stomach."
The House defeated the measure 75-85 on a mostly party-line vote.
Rep. Mike Talboy (D-Kansas City) spoke on the floor after exchanges had already gotten heated. He turned up the heat even more, refusing to call the proposal an expansion of Medicaid.
"In reality, it simply is a restoration of all the mistakes that were made in 2005," Talboy said, referring to cuts to Medicaid House Republicans pushed through that year to balance the state budget. "And the cruel and unchristian and unfair tax cuts…"
With the use of the term "unchristian" boos descended from Republicans, nearly drowning out Talboy and Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt (R-Blue Springs) who he was debating.
Republican Tim Jones of Eureka even took note of the tenor of debate before speaking on the floor.
"Mr. Speaker, it sounded a little bit more like the House of Commons here today," Jones said, referring to the daily question period in Britain’s House of Commons which is often very lively, sometime raucous.
House Budget Chairman Allen Icet (R-Wildwood) brought the conference committee report of HB 11 to the floor for debate, even though he refused to sign the report. No House Republicans on the conference committee signed the report, a sign they didn’t agree to its contents.
Icet told colleagues he couldn’t accept the Medicaid expansion in the bill.
"I filed the bill, because I wanted to give the body the opportunity to debate the bill," Icet said to close debate on the bill. "But, Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I encourage my colleagues to vote against HB 11"
After the House rejected the bill, Icet moved to return to a conference with Senate budget negotiators, which the House agreed to and the Senate accepted. Conference members worked out a compromise designed to move the budget process along so it can be completed by the Friday 6pm deadline. The House will consider than compromise Thursday morning. The deal puts the question of health care expansion off until next week, when the House and Senate will try to reach an agreement on SB 306 .