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Meeting Between Nixon & GOP Chairmen On Medicaid In Jeopardy

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio
Mo. Capitol

A scheduled meeting between Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) and Republican legislative leaders over Medicaid reform is now in jeopardy because of a disagreement over the meeting's location and format.

Governor Nixon had proposed an informal discussion on Medicaid issues next week at an office building near the Capitol with the members of the House and Senate interim committees working on proposals for Medicaid reform.  House committee chair Jay Barnes (R, Jefferson City) and Senate committee chair GaryRomine (R, Farmington) on Tuesday sent a letter to the Governor containing conditions – that the meeting be held at the Capitol, conducted as a public hearing, and that Nixon be the sole witness to testify.

"We've booked the House Lounge for the discussion, and we sent a letter to the Governor's office indicating that we would be there at the time and place to talk about Medicaid with the Governor," Barnes told House Medicaid interim committee members.

Hours later the Governor responded with a letter of his own, which read in part:

"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."

Barnes responded, "Legislative committees meet in (the State Capitol) for serious and substantive policy discussions…that's the appropriate setting."

The meeting hasn't officially been cancelled yet, but unless one or both sides give in it likely won't happen.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.