Legislators act to prohibit state health insurance exchange
The Missouri General Assembly has acted to bar “the establishment, creation, or operation of a state-based health-insurance exchange” unless the voters or legislators approve it.
The measure, SB464, also “specifically prohibits the establishment of a state-based health-insurance exchange” by Gov. Jay Nixon, whose administration earlier had undertaken some technical activities in preparation for such an exchange before legislators blocked them.
The bill calls for its ban to go before voters in November.
The Missouri House voted 108-38 in favor of the bill, one vote short of a veto-proof majority. The Senate had approved the ban earlier.
The real target is the federal Affordable Care Act, the federal health-insurance law approved in 2010 and now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
As a way to reduce insurance costs, the act calls for the creation of “health-insurance exchanges’’ in every state by 2014, when people without job-provided insurance could purchase their own through the exchange. Buying insurance through an exchange would be cheaper than buying it on the open market, especially for people with health problems.
If a state declines to set up an exchange, the act allows the federal government to set up an exchange for them.
House Majority Leader Tim Jones, R-Eureka, said that SB 464 reflects Missourians’ anger over such mandates. “Missourians don’t want the federal health-care law or anything close to it,’’ he said, citing the passage in 2010 of Proposition C, which sought to exempt Missouri from the Affordable Care Act.
“The federal health-care bill is a lie, it did not bend the cost-curve down,’’ Jones said. He contended costs could reduced in other ways.
State Rep. Margo McNeil, D-Florissant, said that the exchanges have yet to be established, so it’s not yet known if they will cut costs. Observing that insurance costs have gone up for decades, she said that the real purpose of SB 464 was “nullification of the federal law.”
Jones and state Rep. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, said the bill’s real target was Nixon.
“The governor needs to follow the will of the people,” Jones said. “He has failed to ask for a waiver.”
Said Silvey: “This is about reining in a governor who is out of control.”
(Start of update) The state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group, lauded the General Assembly's decision.
“The exchanges are just a backdoor for Washington bureaucrats to micromanage our personal healthcare decisions,” said state director Patrick Werner. “Missourians should be proud that our legislature has blocked these exchanges from being implemented." (End of update)