Senate Should End Debate To Pass Medicaid Funding Tax
Republicans in the Missouri Senate should decide to end debate if a filibuster prevents anti-abortion lawmakers from putting their stamp on taxes on providers that fund Medicaid, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said in an interview with the Missouri Independent this week.
The advice, however, was not well received by Republican or Democratic leaders in the Senate.
Lawmakers, who adjourned their annual session on Friday, must return to Capitol Hill by September 30 to extend a set of taxes on medical providers. Otherwise, the state budget would be severely imbalanced, with a shortage of over $ 2 billion for the state’s share in the $ 12 billion program.
Tax renewal failed for the first time in 30 years when it got entangled in abortion politics. Senator Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, sought language to ban Medicaid from paying for certain types of contraceptives, and Senator Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, wanted a provision prohibiting Planned Parenthood from being a provider of contraceptives. Medicaid.
“You just need to have five people who are ready to sign a PQ form, then 18 people who are ready to vote for it,” Ashcroft said. “And I think we saw that there was a clear majority of individuals in favor of pro-life language. Now that’s easy for me to say. I am not in the Legislative Assembly.
“PQ” is the jargon of the parliamentary motion called the previous question. If a written form is signed by five senators and approved by a majority of the chamber, a PQ forces an immediate vote on anything debated – effectively killing a filibuster.
Although it is used several times a day in the House, PQ votes are considered a last resort in the Senate.
Even Republicans, who hold a 24-10 advantage in the chamber, are reluctant to deploy a PQ as it typically results in retaliation from the Democrats with procedural maneuvers designed to erase the legislative process and derail the session.
It was last used in the Senate during a special session in September. Ashcroft said the supplier tax issue is worth the long-term irritation of Senate leaders.
“I think the people of this state would be very happy if the Republican supermajorities they elected adopted Republican supermajority type articles,” Ashcroft said.
The advice of Senate leaders in Ashcroft is to stick to the duties of his office.
“I appreciate the secretary’s contribution, but the last time I checked he didn’t have a vote in the Missouri Senate,” Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, wrote in a text message. .
“We have enough Monday morning shifts,” said Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence. “We don’t need another.”
The use of the previous question creates resentment within the Senate minority and may even divide the majority. The end of this year’s session shows that an abundance of both is already present in the body.
“There was a lot of damage in the last few days of the session that needs to be fixed before we can even start talking about legislation,” said Rizzo. “There has to be mutual respect and an understanding of how we are progressing.”
Using the previous question will not help this process.
“Hopefully this is one of the last resort we have on an issue,” said Senate Speaker Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan. “We are still trying to come to an acceptable point of resolution.”
Provider taxes, known as reimbursement indemnities, are paid by hospitals, pharmacies, retirement homes and ambulances. The tax is a levy on everyone’s total income and is paid by reducing Medicaid payments by the amount owed.
The funds are then accumulated and draw approximately $ 1.80 of federal support for every dollar of funds. Although it does not fund the entire Medicaid program, it represents a larger share of the total cost than general revenues from income taxes and sales.
First adopted in 1992, under Ashcroft’s father, then governor. John Ashcroft, the tax has been renewed 16 times. The expiration date is aligned with the end of a federal fiscal year, September 30, as any federal change in how money is accounted for would likely take place at the start of a new fiscal year.
The timing for a special session is uncertain, legislative leaders said.
The minimum time required to pass a bill to the General Assembly is five days. An extraordinary session called by the governor has 60 days to complete its work.
To allow for the full 60 days and full renewal before expiration, Gov. Mike Parson is expected to call lawmakers no later than August 1.
To get renewal before signing budget bills for the fiscal year beginning July 1, Parson is expected to launch the appeal in mid-June and hope for swift passage.
Parson has not publicly stated whether he supports including either or both of the amendments in an FRA renewal.
Wieland gained Senate approval for his language at the end of March, and Onder spoke about his plan to ban family planning when the Senate reverted to the bill in the closing weeks of the session.
Ashcroft first weighed in on the vendor tax debate shortly after noon on Friday, when final efforts to pass the bill in any form had already failed. In a press release, Ashcroft said he was “a champion of human life” and “encourages the Missouri legislature to use strict language – in Federal Reimbursement Allowance (FRA) legislation – to ensure that FRA funds not be used to finance the murder. of innocent human life.
Ashcroft’s first political run was a failed bid for a Senate seat, and in the interview he said he was expressing the same stance on abortion he had promoted in that campaign. He said he was not trying to tell lawmakers what to include in the bill, but that he should be as strong as possible.
“I don’t want to be in the middle of anyone’s room,” Ashcroft said. “All I want is to make sure that we protect these human lives.”
Provider taxes have become a target for amendments because previous efforts to add language to budget bills prohibiting Planned Parenthood from being a Medicaid provider have been rejected by the courts.
“All they do is take language that has been approved in budgets for I don’t know how many years and hand it straight to FRA,” Ashcroft said. “So many of the same people who are complaining about it voted for that same language in last year’s budget.”
The Wieland and Onder amendments have no direct connection to abortions, Rizzo said. The GOP majority has already passed a bill that would ban abortions after six weeks, which is blocked by the courts until a Supreme Court ruling on a similar Mississippi law.
“You can’t do much more than what they did on this issue,” Rizzo said. “Like guns, they’ve been cut to the bone when it comes to these issues. Now that these problems are so extreme now, they have to start creating new items, and now they are taking on birth control. “
Wieland’s provision targets FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices designed to prevent fertilization. In the small number of fertilization cases, the targeted products also prevent implantation in the uterus.
Onder’s amendment would prevent Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions only at one clinic in St. Louis, from providing Medicaid-covered services at other clinics in St. Louis, Joplin, Springfield, Kansas City and Columbia.
The agenda of an extraordinary session is fixed by convocation of the governor and no legislation on other subjects can be considered. Parson can find a way to exclude consideration of either amendment, or he can direct lawmakers to consider them.
Ashcroft said he thinks it would be difficult to rule out debate on how to spend the money raised by taxes passed in a special session. Rizzo said he would like Parson to find a way to just extend taxes.
“I don’t think we should take a $ 2 billion bet to make sure Republicans don’t provide access to birth control,” Rizzo said.
He supports both amendments but does not want to take “extreme measures” to implement them, Schatz said.
“I will explore these possibilities,” he said, “before I even consider embarking on this path.”
The Missouri Independent is a nonprofit, non-partisan news organization that covers state government and its impact on Missourians.