Missouri Senate Report Won’t Include Medicaid Expansion Plan, LeVota And Other Dems Walk Out
November 14, 2013

(AP) – Members of a special Senate committee looking at ways to “transform and reform” Missouri’s Medicaid program demonstrated Wednesday that little has changed in the partisan battle over the government-funded health care plan for the poor.

Democrats sought to include expanded eligibility for the program in a list of recommendations being considered by the committee and walked out of the room when Republicans didn’t want to make it their first topic of discussion.

Republicans, who hold a majority on the Senate Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation and Reform, later voted to keep Medicaid expansion out of the report that is to be released in advance of the 2014 session.

The outcome mirrored numerous other votes taken earlier this year, when the Republican-led Legislature repeatedly defeated efforts by Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Jay Nixon to expand adult Medicaid eligibility.

“Until we reform and transform the current Medicaid program, no one’s in a position where they feel comfortable expanding anything,” said committee chairman Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington.

Democrats argued that expanding Medicaid eligibility to low-income adults lacking health insurance is an integral part of transforming the program. They wanted to add wording to the report saying the Legislature should consider seeking federal approval for a Medicaid expansion plan.

After the committee voted down the Democratic recommendation, Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence, acknowledged that the prospects of expanding Medicaid in 2014 appear slim.

“They’re just stuck in their dogma,” LeVota said of Republicans on the committee.

LeVota and the two other Democratic members of the committee – Sens. Jamilah Nasheed and Joe Keaveny, both of St. Louis – left the room as the committee discussed more than a dozen other recommendations included in a draft report