The House has voted 55-12 to not concur in the Senate amendments to HB 644, the health coverage bill. Rep. John VanderWoude, R-Meridian, said, “I think we are well aware that the amendments have considerably changed the intention of the bill, the wording of the bill, and I can no longer support what’s been added to it.”
House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, objected. “This process over the last few days has made me feel at times elated, depressed, angry, and I felt that way yesterday,” he told the House. “But thinking overnight and thinking about why I’m here brought a certain calmness and insight. We’re all there to do our best for our districts and to try to be consistent with our personal values. To make the best vote, we are charged with understanding consequences to our districts. And I thought I’d talk a little bit about District 6.”
He said 1,600 people fall into the health coverage gap in his district, which takes in Nez Perce and Lewis counties. In the next year, he said, “Three will die if we do not pass coverage.” He also said an additional $1.75 million would be paid in taxes “because they’ll be forced to double-pay for indigient mental health, the CAT fund, as well as federal Medicaid services.” Rusche said, “Understand the implications, vote your heart, vote your district, and then sleep well at night.”
All 12 no votes were Democrats; all but of the yes votes were Republicans. Two Democrats initially, mistakenly, voted yes, then asked unanimous consent to change their votes: Reps. Kloc and Pence. At first, Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, objected to Kloc's request. After a break, the House reconvened and Loertscher withdrew his objection. Two Democrats, Reps. Rubel and Chew, were absent.