Rep. Richard Corcoran, the House budget chief who is the ideological force behind the House's resistance to Medicaid expansion, declared rhetorical war on the Senate Thursday in his closing arguments in support of the House's $76.2 billon budget.
In a fiesty speech after nearly three hours of debate over the budget, Corcoran said the federal government's threat to cancel the cost-sharing program for hospitals known as the "Low Income Pool" is holding the state hostage and blasted his Senate colleagues for using the force of their budget to provoke a renewed debate over Medicaid expansion.
"Here's my message to the Senate,'' said Corcoran, R-Trinity, who is designated to be House speaker in 2016. "They have to come dancing. Were' not dancing. If you want to blow up the process, you think you have that right."
He defended the House's long-term opposition to Medicaid expansion and chided the state Senate for not being "intellectually honest" for including both federal money for LIP and federal proceeds from Medicaid expansion in its proposed budget.
The federal government, which has said it may not renew the LIP funds and is negotiating with the Senate over a privately-run Medicaid expansion plan, is manipulating the state.
"They own our budget. They own our policies,'' he said, and the idea the federal government won't supply the funds needed by hospitals that provide the needed services is "absolute fantasy."
He asked his colleagues to "come to war with us and I'll tell you who the enemy is. It's the status quo. All those people who profit from the system.''
He called out the hospital industry, who he claims are gouging private payers by charging inflated rates.
"We have researched this issue. We have vetted this issue -- upside and all over,'' he said. "The great enemy is not us versus you. The great enemy is the power of the status quo. How do we declare war on all the special interests -- all the Gucci-loafing, shoe-wearing special interests powers that be that are sitting in that hallway? Every single one of them wants Medicaid expansion."
He concluded: "If it costs me my political career or yours, so be it."
Republicans stood in applause and the House approved the budget 86-29 with only Democrats voting no.