Governor Jay Nixon has responded to a letter from the chairmen of the House and Senate interim committees on Medicaid reform, accepting his request to hold a joint committee hearing with them but laying out how they wanted to hold that hearing.
Nixon does not specifically address whether he will meet under the terms laid out by the chairmen, particularly to hold the hearing in the House Lounge in the Capitol as opposed to in the Governor’s Office Building, which he named in his invitation dated November 5. He does accuse the chairmen of choosing “politics … over the substance of the discussion.” Nixon writes, “I am not interested in taking part in a political game at the expense of the Missourians we have sworn to serve.”
Nixon writes to Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) and Senator Gary Romine (R-Farmington):
“Two weeks ago, I invited you and your colleagues on the House and Senate Interim Committees on Medicaid Transformation and Reform to take part in a two-way discussion about one of the most important public policy issues facing our state: making our health care system more efficient, effective and responsive to the needs of Missourians. As I said in my invitation, I looked forward to this meeting as an opportunity to hear about your findings and to present my ideas for making progress in this area. Based on your agreement to participate, my office proceeded to finalize the details of the session including clearing the schedules of the cabinet members who would participate.
“That is why I was disappointed to learn today that you had reneged on our agreement for a constructive dialogue on this matter. Given the assurances my office received in good faith from you on the form and content of the meeting, 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.
“The issue of strengthening and improving Medicaid touches the lives of millions of Missourians, so it is disheartening that once again, political posturing is relegating the real needs of real people to the sidelines. When it comes to an issue as fundamental as the physical and mental well-being of our constituents, people – not politics – need to come first.”
Barnes did not read the letter to his committee, but told members that Nixon would not be coming to the House Lounge at the Capitol Tuesday morning as the letter he and Romine had dictated. He asked committee members whether they would show up at the Lounge, but no members responded.
He told the committee, “I didn’t spend my entire summer working on this issue to participate in any sort of political theater.”