Missouri State Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) hasn’t ruled out further obstructing activity on the chamber floor after single-handedly grinding it to a halt last week.
He claims Governor Eric Greitens and special interests are trying to ramrod spending through the legislature.
Schaaf says the roll-out of managed care is being done in an unconstitutional manner. He contends managed care providers – specifically Centene Corporation – have donated heavily to Greitens for the purpose of extracting state funds.
“I mean it’s outrageous” said Schaaf. “Centene was listed as a contributor in the governor’s inaugural program. But the governor won’t reveal how much money Centene contributed. And he’s received millions in dark money. We don’t know how much the managed care companies contributed in that.”
Schaaf says Greitens and the managed care industry are holding a gun to the heads of lawmakers to earmark funding or leave senior and disabled people without medical coverage.
The roll-out to expand managed care delivery of Medicaid benefits from its current implementation in what’s called the “I-70 corridor” to the entire state is scheduled to take effect May 1st. The state won’t have a set budget to present to the governor until May 5th.
Schaaf claims a number of requirements haven’t been met as the roll-out approaches, including obtaining a waiver, adopting a state plan amendment, conducting a network adequacy study and getting approval for new contracts with providers.
An outspoken critic of managed care, Schaaf says he was using techniques available to him to draw attention to the issue when he read passages from the book “Influence” while filibustering the Senate.
“When I see things that I think are corrupt, I use the power available to me to grind things to a halt and bring attention to it. You know, I’ve become very good at that.”
Schaaf launched a number of solo filibusters which effectively blocked almost all Senate floor activity last week. He says he obstructed action last Thursday because the House killed a measure he’s sponsoring in the upper chamber having to do with weigh stations.
“I have this bill. It’s an anti-corruption bill. It’s an ethics bill in reality. And the House killed it. That’s why I stood up and ground the Senate to a halt for an hour.”
The Senate adjourned for the week during Schaaf’s filibuster. The chamber had planned to hold a long session Thursday and reconvene for business Friday before abruptly closing shop.
After fellow Republican Caleb Rowden questioned Senator Schaaf about renting a room from a lobbyist who represents a company in which Schaaf serves as a board member, Schaaf vowed to examine of all Rowden’s legislation for connections to campaign contributions. The Senate adjourned within 45 seconds after the exchange.
Friday, Governor Greitens PAC was criticized for distributing Schaaf’s personal phone number on the internet with a caption asking constituents to tell Schaaf to “stop siding with liberals”.
The message said “Schaaf is attempting to shut down conservative action in the Senate because of personal political games he’s playing along with the liberals”.
The connection of Schaaf to liberals doesn’t take into account other Republicans who spoke at length about legislation they disagree with.
Senator Doug Libla of Poplar Bluff and Senator Gary Romine of Farmington both strongly oppose a bill to restructure utility negotiations with the state’s Public Service Commission over rate hikes.
Schaaf said he would join the two other GOP members and Senate Democrat Jill Schupp in vocally opposing the measure on the Senate floor.
Governor Greitens office hasn’t responded to a request for comment by Missourinet. Schaaf posted the tweet below criticizing Greitens Monday morning.
This Facebook ad made me laugh out loud! It’s so over the top! But I’m sad for our governor. Posting this makes him look pathetic. pic.twitter.com/piJUUEELct
— Rob Schaaf (@robschaaf) April 24, 2017
When the Senate returned to session Monday afternoon, Schaaf was allowed to make a statement on the floor.
In it, he said he had discontinued his room rental arrangement with the lobbyist. He criticized Greitens, claiming the ad – seen above – was misleading, and stated he was a strong proponent of banning lobbyist gifts.
He called on Greitens to return a $1 million campaign contribution from Joplin roofing supply magnate David Humphreys, return contributions from Centene and stop the roll-out of the managed care expansion.
Schaaf said Greitens should stop calling senators “corrupt career politicians”, and instead should lead the state in stamping out corruption.
He echoed a common notion among lawmakers about Greitens future aspiration by saying “If you ever want to go to the White House, you need to start now”.
Schaaf finished by offering a substitute for Senate Bill 305, which originally prohibited lobbyists from spending more than $10 in any day on behalf of a lawmaker.