Medicaid protesters interrupt Senate debate

Demonstrators were cleared from the gallery by Capitol Police.

More than 20 people have been arrested after demonstrators briefly interrupted debate in the Missouri Senate to protest lawmakers' refusal to accept federal dollars to expand the state's Medicaid program.

Protesters filled the public galleries, chanted and sang hymns during Senate debate Tuesday for about an hour. A spokesman for the Missouri Department of Public Safety says 23 people were arrested for refusing to leave after being asked by Capitol Police. They were checked for active arrest warrants, but were not handcuffed or taken into custody.

Missouri's Republican-led Legislature has cited long-term costs in repeatedly rejecting attempts to expand eligibility for low-income adults under the terms of President Barack Obama's health care law. Supporters say expanding Medicaid will provide health care those who cannot afford private coverage.