By Marshall Griffin, KWMU
Jefferson City, MO – Hundreds of people rallied today inside the State Capitol Rotunda, demanding health care access be expanded to more low-income Missourians.
The crowd rattled plastic piggy banks with pennies inside them as they called on lawmakers to restore cuts made to Medicaid benefits under former Governor Matt Blunt.
New Governor Jay Nixon asked the crowd to lobby House Budget committee members in favor of a bill to restore some of the cuts.
"So it comes down to this in democracy, okay? A committee will meet in a building that you're in to vote on whether or not we're going to take the first step," Nixon said.
But the House Budget Committee rejected the bill. State Representative Allen Icet (R, Wildwood) chairs the committee.
"I have no interest in driving this state to financial oblivion, like the other 49 states are facing, so it just makes no sense to expand programs when we're having budget shortfalls as we speak in 2009 and 2010," Icet said.
Icet added that the only way to expand any state-run health care program this year would be to take the money from another state-run health care program.