I'll confess: I was completely wrong in my predictions of how the House would handle the health care proposal put forward by Gov. Jay Nixon and the Missouri Hospitals Association. It was my assumption that the health care debate would work a lot like the budget debate -- after a lot of hemming and hawing about how awful the plan would be, House GOP leaders would do the right thing and let the plan pass. After all, it would have provided health care to 35,000 working parents and wouldn't have cost the state a dime. There was all sorts of political cover from business interests like the Associated Industries of Missouri, and strong support from Republicans and Democrats in the Senate.
But I was wrong. House Republicans voted the plan (in HB11) down in a party-line vote. And when given the chance to do the right thing on the last day of session, Speaker Ron Richard and Floor Leader Steve Tilley wouldn't even let the proposal come up for a vote. They callously left the proposal on the table, putting their extreme ideology before working families that desperately need a hand.
As the session was wrapping up, I spoke with a number of House members about their experiences in the session, and especially about the health care and budget debates. Here are a few of the comments that stand out:
The cure for the madness? No idea. When presented with a win-win-win proposal this year, it still wasn't good enough. It wouldn't have cost the state a dime. It had overwhelming support in the business community. It was supported by the public. It would have helped 35,000 working parents, already struggling in our economy.
It still boggles the mind.