JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri legislature agreed on the state's operating budget Tuesday and Wednesday, including a 13 percent increase for the state's Medicaid program, the largest single funded department in the state.
Not every lawmaker was pleased with the increase, but for different reasons. Conservative Republican Matt Bartle, from Lee's Summitt, disagreed with the boost in revenue, claiming the state was spending too much on the program.
"We've provided the populace with incentives to stay away from getting their own health care," Bartle said Wednesday on the Senate floor, referring to the state's Medicaid program.
Certain Democratic senators, including Kansas City area native Victor Callahan, argued that the budget included too little resources for Missouri's needy.
Callahan complained that the Republican-controlled legislature had not passed anything dealing with Medicaid fraud by health-care providers -- something he described as holes in a bucket.
"I guess we have a bunch of holes in the bucket and last year's solution was to put less water in that bucket. What we should do is to try to fix the holes in the bucket," Callahan said, referring to the issue of Medicaid fraud in Missouri.
A Medicaid fraud bill has been passed by the Missouri Senate, but has yet to clear a House committee.
The increase in spending for Social Services this year comes despite the extensive cuts to Medicaid during last year's legislative session.