A meeting that had been planned for next week between Governor Jay Nixon and the members of the House and Senate interim committees on Medicaid reform has been canceled after disagreement arose on where and how it would be conducted.
Governor Nixon issued an invitation to those legislators on November 5 to meet with him on the morning of November 26. Several legislators told Missourinet they planned to be there.
Tuesday morning before a hearing of the House Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation, Chairman Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) released a letter he and the Chairman of the Senate Interim Committee on Medicaid Reform and Transformation, Gary Romine (R-Farmington) had issued to the Governor. In it they accepted his information and laid out how they wanted the meeting to be conducted.
They told the Governor it would be a joint session between the two committees that Barnes and Romine would co-chair. Nixon would be the only witness called and would be given time for an opening statement before questions could be asked by the committees’ members.
The chairmen agreed to the time and day but wanted the hearing to be held in the House Lounge in the State Capitol. Nixon’s invitation was for lawmakers to join him at the Governor’s Office Building, two blocks away.
Nixon responded with his own letter saying that Romine and Barnes had previously agreed to the meeting as well as its “form and content,” and accusing them of reneging on that agreement.
Nixon writes, “I can only conclude that this last-minute change of heart demonstrates that, as we saw last session, you and your leadership have chosen to give politics precedence over the substance of the discussion. And while I am always willing and eager to engage in a serious, thoughtful debate about Medicaid, in any setting, I am not interested in taking part in a political game at the expense of the Missourians we have sworn to serve.”
A spokesperson for Nixon, Channing Ansley, says the Governor will not be in either location Tuesday morning.
She writes, “The agreed-upon purpose of the meeting was to have a constructive dialogue between the Governor and members of the committees.”
Barnes was informed of the Governor’s letter during his committee’s hearing. He did not read it to its members but informed them the Governor would not be coming to the joint hearing he and Romine had laid out.
He accused the Governor of playing “political theater,” and said the hearing should be held in the Capitol because “legislative committees operate in the State Capitol.”
Barnes, asked whether a meeting between Nixon and the two committees was important enough to merit a legislative meeting outside the Capitol, said no.
“I’m not confident any meeting between the Governor and the two committees in November is going to make a tremendous difference for what happens in the General Assembly in April and May.”