“Progress is the Law of Life” – When it comes the HB 11 the republican majority in the House evidently hasn’t read the inscription on the House side of the capitol building.
This morning in Jefferson City, from the vantage point of a House side gallery, I listened to the debate in the aftermath of yesterday’s rejection of the HB 11 conference report. During a break in the proceedings I had the opportunity to speak with Representative Mike Talboy (D-37):
Show Me Progress: In listening to the debate this morning on HB 11 it was clear that there really is, there is no meeting of the minds between the [Republican] majority in the House and, and the minority party in the House. In, in a sense where it appeared to me that the majority was saying, “Take what we’ve got, or nothing.”
Representative Mike Talboy: Absolutely. And that’s, I mean it’s the tyranny of the majority here.
SMP: Has, has there been any, was there hope for compromise? Has there been any compromise?
Representative Talboy: Absolutely. The Senate Republicans, the Governor, the Hospital Association, the Senate Democrats, and the House Democrats and, at one point, the House Republicans all agreed to this, you know, to the implementation of this program, to signing off on it. The language was put in the conference report and then the [Republican] majority party decided that they weren’t gonna honor their agreements that they had, had made. And you can’t, you can’t have a meeting of the minds when you’re not dealing with honest brokers.
SMP: In, in the ensuing time from the conference to the vote yesterday, what changed for the majority? Has there been any explanation of this?
Representative Talboy: I don’t think it was ever going to be, I don’t think it was ever intended to pass. I really don’t. I don’t think it was ever intended by the [Republican] majority in the House to ever let that language pass.
SMP: So, you know, I’m confused in the sense where, did people think everybody was, did they profess that they were working in good faith?
Representative Talboy: Yes. For weeks, possibly months. And they, they were opposed to it going into certain bills, or they were opposed to doing certain things with it. When the Senate put it in then it became “Okay, we’re going to go ahead and do this.” And we, we put it together in a conference report,and, and everything happened correctly. And the process was working the way it was supposed to. And then, you know, as, as the Senate does they, they tried to get something done. And they tried to move forward on this. And we had an issue where you’re looking at a person who doesn’t understand how to broker in good faith and, you know, unfortunately it’s, he runs the budget committee…
…SMP: You know, at this point, once the House votes on it, it’s, it’s a done deal then?
Representative Talboy: No, it has to go back over to the Senate. And then, they can either adopt the committee report exactly as it is, or they can request that we do another conference committee. But my, my guess is they will adopt the conference report as it is. And then we’re stuck hoping that [SB] 306 could possibly be used to as the vehicle to put people into some sort of health care package.
But most likely it’s gonna be the bait and switch of all bait and switches where we have people that are already in a program that insurance companies get a dollar for dollar tax credit to be in, we call them “uninsurables”, there’s a statutory definition of what they are. And those folks are provided, it’s the MHIP, which is the Missouri High Risk Pool, and, the high risk insurance pool, and they will then be able to get some sort of coverage
What these folks want to do is they want to take the hundred forty-eight million dollars that’s appropriated, that mind you was not any general revenue, and…
SMP: So, it’s, it’s one time money then?
Representative Talboy: No. It’s, it’s money from the FRA tax, which is the provider tax, from the Missouri Hospital Association [crosstalk]…
Representative Mike Talboy: …that they voluntarily increased how they are, how they are going to be taxed because we are hemorrhaging so many dollars at hospitals. So we have these folks come in, offer to do this. That money allows us to draw down general revenue, and we have a hundred forty-eight million dollars available to us. And what, what the [Republican] majority is going to do is take [SB] 306, they’re going to load it up with all these different really bad health care “reforms”, and I say that in all jest, that we’re going to have then put into this program. And they are not going into cover any able-bodied adult. And that’s…
SMP: And by, by definition…
Representative Mike Talboy: Working poor.
SMP: Working poor. And so the working poor are left to nothing.
Representative Mike Talboy: Where they are right now.
SMP: Which is?
Representative Mike Talboy: Nowhere.
SMP: Nowhere. And in the debate had there been any discussion of the costs, monetary and to society, of having uninsured working poor?
Representative Mike Talboy: Yes.
SMP: And in the sense that, you know, we, and, and this had no bearing on…?
Representative Mike Talboy: Fundamental problem is that a majority of the majority party just does not care. Period. But they don’t care if those people, if they’re working then it should be up to them to find their own health care or for their employer to give them health care. But it’s not the government’s job in their, in their mind to deal anything with people that need it. And we’ve seen that time and time again. It doesn’t matter if it’s kids. It doesn’t matter if it’s parents. It doesn’t matter if it’s individuals that don’t have kids and aren’t parents. There’s a fundamental distaste for helping and investing in the citizens of this state. And, and unfortunately, it’s, it’s becoming like, it’s a situation where I think that they want to take India’s model and make a class system. And just do it by statute.
A few quotes from this morning’s debate, the first from a Democratic representative:
“…This purported compromise…is a triumph of ideology over results…”
From a republican representative (I kid you not):
“…When we increase our welfare, we increase medical costs…”
Representative Jeanette Mott Oxford (D-59):
“…It’s funny what we call welfare, and what we don’t…”
“…When we help millionaires and billionaires build a baseball stadium we don’t call it welfare…”
“…[We want] a decent society, where parents can make it on one living wage and take care of their kids…”
That would be a good law of life, wouldn’t it?