Heated exchanges highlight debate in the House on a bill intended to supplement shortfalls in the current budget.
This fight targets money not included in HCS HB 14 , the $133 million supplemental budget bill to make up for shortfalls in the current budget. Republicans angered Democrats when they stripped money proposed by Governor Nixon to extend the SCHIP program to 20,000 children.
Republicans during House debate turned back numerous attempts by Democrats to place the money back in the bill. Democrats argue that the $939,000 proposal by the Nixon Administration would draw down $5 million in federal funding. They contend it would be foolish for Missouri to allow those matching funds to flow to other states.
Republicans make two counter points. The first points to changes made to SCHIP, the state funded children’s health care program, in 2005. Those changes made the program eligible for many more children whose families paid premiums.
The State Family Support Division says legislation approved in 2005 extended health care to 41,000 children, 16,000 of whom lost health care when their parents failed to pay the premiums. Currently, a Missouri family making between 150 to 185% of the federal poverty level must pay $66/month to receive SCHIP coverage. The monthly premium rises to $109 for families earning between 186 and 225% of poverty and to $165 for families earning between 226 and 300% of poverty. The Nixon Administration proposes dropping the premium requirement.
The second point is made by House Budget Committee Chairman Allen Icet (R-Wildwood), who stripped the SCHIP increase from the bill, saying an expansion of a program doesn’t belong in a supplemental bill. The debate is sure to return when the House picks up next year’s budget.