July 31, 2014

House gives initial approval to $25 billion budget, Medicaid expansion rejected

The House is poised to send the Senate a $25 billion budget that does not include Medicaid expansion. House Democrats offered several amendments that would have plugged the Governor’s proposal to expand Medicaid in Missouri back into the new state spending plan but they were all defeated along party lines.

House Minority Leader Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis City) offered several amendments Tuesday attempting to plug Medicaid expansion back into the House's FY 2014 budget proposal.

House Minority Leader Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis City) offered several amendments Tuesday attempting to plug Medicaid expansion back into the House’s FY 2014 budget proposal.

Minority Floor Leader Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis City) sponsored several of those amendments.

“We’re talking about the creation of 24,000 jobs, $8.2 billion of federal investment to this state, 300,000 Missourians with access to healthcare.”

Representative Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur) says Medicaid expansion is widely supported.

“The hospitals, the (state) Chamber, insurance groups, advocates for the poor and the working poor, mental health groups, the Catholic Conference, Metropolitan Congregations United … non-partisan, disparate groups who have come together and said, ‘This is the time, this is the opportunity, this is the moment to do what is right for the people of the State of Missouri.’”

Republicans say accepting expansion rather than pursuing reform would hurt the state in the long run. Representative Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) says that could see the state in the future having to choose between the two greatest parts of its budget: education and healthcare.

“Which schools are we going to shut down because we’re giving $100 million or $200 million dollars out of the schools’ budget to expand a blatantly flawed system?”

Democrats say if the federal government does not keep its promise to pay for expansion for the first three years, and most of the cost after that, the expansion can be scrapped. Representative KevinĀ Engler (R-Farmington) says the last time a vote was taken to remove people from the Medicaid rolls he was there voting for it, but Democrats did not.

“I want to know which ones of you are going to be willing in three years to vote to take 300 and something people off of Medicaid. I want to be here waiting for that. It is not going to happen. You won’t do it. You didn’t do it in the past. You won’t do it in the future.”

The House is expected to vote on Thursday whether to send the budget to the Senate.