The proposed budget for the Missouri Department of Social Services was rejected early this morning, before the Senate reversed itself.
Senators who opposed adding some 200,000 Missourians to a managed care system, in which a private company manages health benefits for consumers, held up a vote on the Social Services Department’s budget for six hours. When a vote finally came the bill failed, but on a second vote it got the 18 needed to pass.
Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) led the effort against the managed care expansion, calling it a significant shift in policy that should not be made in the state’s budget.
“We’re talking about putting 200,000 Missourians on managed care without even so much as a hearing. Not even a hearing, where we could vet this. Where we could talk about it,” said Schaaf. “We’re not even allowed to have the public come and comment.”
Budget Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer says the idea has had plenty of debate.
“The Senator from St. Francois [County] chaired a committee that met over the summer. They had multiple hearings all over the state. They heard from a lot of witnesses. It was their number one recommendation. The House has had hearings on this,” said Schaefer. “To say that there’s been no hearings on this is ridiculous.”
The two sides disagree on whether managed care is cost-effective and better for patients.
That bill and the other 12 bills that make up the proposed state budget now faces another round of debate in a House-Senate conference committee.
Schaefer says he intends to defend the proposal in that conference.
“I’m adamant in the fact that we’re going to rein in welfare growth,” Schaefer said. He said the proposed budget passed by the Senate this morning would provide the Department of Social Services more than it spent last year, “but we’re going to rein in that growth. I’m adamant on that and pushed forward with it and I’m glad that I had the support from the members that I did.”