An effort by Republicans to fast-track Medicaid cuts in the South Carolina House failed in committee Wednesday. House leaders tried to move to special order a bill that would cut the amount hospitals are paid to treat Medicaid patients. However, the Rules Committee fell one vote shy of the two-thirds necessary make the move.
Once a bill is placed on special order, it automatically moves to the top of the House agenda. No other bills can be debated or voted on until the bill passes.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicaid in South Carolina, had asked for the bill to be passed this week so it could cut the rates before Monday’s quarterly reporting deadline. Committee chairman Brian White (R-Anderson) said it was an attempt to stop the agency’s deficit spending as quickly as possible.
However, Democrats objected to what they viewed as a backdoor effort to push the bill through. Enough Republicans were on the committee to provide the necessary votes. However, Rep. Kris Crawford (R-Florence), a doctor, surprised his fellow Republicans by recusing himself from the vote. He said he was worried about the appearance of a conflict of interest. The resolution failed as the 9-5 majority did not reach the necessary two-thirds requirement.
Since the issue was only a procedural resolution, Crawford said he was legally allowed to vote on it. He said he recused himself in the interest of full transparency, especially since he had recused himself from an earlier procedural vote.
From just the standpoint of playing it as clean as you possibly can, it seemed only right that I follow my prior precedent and recuse myself… That was the most appropriate matter.
Crawford said he supports the bill even though his businesses would probably be hurt financially by it.
The bill will still likely be debated in the House Thursday, but Republicans had hoped to bring it up Wednesday to meet next week’s deadline. If it passes Thursday, the agency would not be able to apply for the provider rate cuts until April 11.