Government & Politics

Missouri Capitol Police remove hymn-singing protesters from Senate debate

Supporters of expanding Missouri’s Medicaid program briefly interrupted debate in the state Senate to protest lawmakers’ refusal to accept federal dollars to expand the program.

Protesters filled the public galleries during Senate debate Tuesday and chanted and sang hymns for about an hour.

The Senate temporarily halted debate while the protesters shouted “bring dignity” and “do not block expansion.”

It was not immediately clear if any arrests were made. Demonstrators were cleared from the gallery by Capitol Police.

Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature has repeatedly rejected attempts to expand the program for low-income, elderly and disabled residents under President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Supporters say expanding the program will provide health care for about 300,000 Missourians who cannot afford private coverage. Opponents have raised concerns about the long-term costs.