Kinder, Lager disagree on how to block implementation of insurance exchange in Missouri
Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder says he plans to raise private money – and won’t use any public funds – to pay the legal expenses for his planned lawsuit challenging the ballot wording for a measure on a proposed state insurance exchange.
Kinder said he expects to file suit on Friday or next week against Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, who he contends wrote “an outrageously biased” ballot summary to help defeat the Nov. 6 ballot proposal, which had been crafted by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
The measure would not allow the creation of a health-insurance exchange in Missouri unless it had been approved by the General Assembly or by voters. It aims to bar Gov. Jay Nixon’s administration, or the federal government, from setting up an exchange without approval of voters or legislators.
At issue is Carnahan’s ballot summary, released late Tuesday, which states:
"Shall Missouri law be amended to deny individuals, families, and small businesses the ability to access affordable health care plans through a state-based health benefit exchange unless authorized by statute, initiative or referendum or through an exchange operated by the federal government as required by the federal health care act?"
"No direct costs or savings for state and local governmental entities are expected from this proposal. Indirect costs or savings related to enforcement actions, missed federal funding, avoided implementation costs, and other issues are unknown."
Kinder said, “In 19 years that I’ve been in Jefferson City battling for conservative causes, I have seen no ballot language proposed by any secretary of state that even approached this in its outrageousness. This language is outrageously biased. It represents political gamesmanship at its worst.”
Kinder concluded, “It was intended to bias the measure and result in its defeat.”
Carnahan’s office has said that the ballot language is fair.
Kinder said that House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, have agreed to join him in the lawsuit, along with “a number of legislative leaders’’ and other GOP lawmakers.
Kinder said he has talked to various private groups and individuals about paying his legal expenses. He has yet to settle on an attorney but said that will be done before the lawsuit is filed.
In any event, Kinder said he opposed a proposal by his rival in the Aug. 7 primary – state Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah – to persuade legislative leaders or Gov. Jay Nixon to call a special session so that the General Assembly can pass legislation to opt out of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act that call for the creation of an exchange and the expansion of Medicaid.
Kinder contended that a special session is “a bad idea,” although he did not mention Lager by name.
Among other things, Kinder said it was unclear if Nixon, a Democrat, would support the idea – although the governor has yet to take a public stance on the Medicaid expansion or the health-insurance exchange.
Lager, in turn, decried what he called “politically motivated lawsuits and high-priced lawyers,” although he did not mention Kinder by name.
Lager said his approach made better sense. “What we really need is for our state’s elected officials to get to work and lead. It is time for Missouri to notify Washington that we are opting out of Obamacare,” he said.
Lager cited the 2010 passage in Missouri of Proposition C, which sought to prevent Missourians from having to comply with any federal mandate to purchase insurance. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that the mandate was constitutional and could be imposed.