Missouri House passes resolution against proposed federal health care reform

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | 9:50 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House of Representatives voted Tuesday for a resolution against the proposed health care bills being debated in Congress.

The resolution, which is only an expression of opinion and does not become Missouri law, passed about the same time the Republican candidate won the open Massachusetts Senate seat, removing the Democrats' ability to override Republican filibusters.

Rep. John Diehl, R-St. Louis County, said other states, including Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut, have been receiving tax exemptions during congressional debate, but these states would have better tax exemptions than Missouri under the proposed health care reform.

Speaker Pro Tem Bryan Pratt, R-Jackson County, said the burden of paying more than other states is unfair and the exemptions would economically destroy Missouri.

"The plan will bankrupt Missouri," Pratt said. "If you vote for this bill, what do you want to cut?"

Other Republican representatives in the Missouri House agree with Diehl that health care reform in Washington has been done behind closed doors.

"I don't believe those debates were done in a transparent process," Diehl said.

Many representatives brought up the "Nebraska kickback," specifically listed in the resolution as one of the grievances Missouri lawmakers have against the Senate's version of the federal health care bill.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson provided the necessary 60th vote to pass the bill in the Senate after receiving an exemption for the Medicare tax in Nebraska. Since the controversy, Nelson has asked for the deal to be repealed from the legislation.

Because the resolution only sends a message to Congress, Rep. Jason Holsman, D-Jackson County, said the debate was a waste of time.

"Our citizens did not vote for us to come here to debate things that are out of our control," Holsman said.

The Missouri House debate reflected the arguments used in Washington with Republicans against Democrats for the health care reform bill. Representatives continued the disagreements on whether the current system needed alterations and how well citizens were being served.

The resolution now goes to the Senate for a vote.

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