Health Care Exchanges Spark Clash

Sep 16, 2011

A Missouri Senate committee heard testimony Thursday on the health care exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The legislature must either create an exchange or let the federal government do so. Republicans on the committee clashed with Governor Jay Nixon’s administration.

Republican State Senator Scott Rupp chairs the interim committee on health care exchanges – the insurance marketplaces meant to bring down prices for individuals and small businesses. But while the Senate committee heard testimony Thursday morning, Rupp got word of another meeting going on across town in Jefferson City.

An insurance board appointed by Governor Jay Nixon was already about to vote on initial funding to set up a state exchange. Rupp said the board has no authority to move ahead before the legislature acts.

“It was basically just an end-run around the legislature. You know, that’s our job whether or not we choose to create one. And across town, the governor’s having his people just proceed ahead, without using the legislature."

A delegation of Republican senators rushed across town, and put the kibosh on the insurance board vote.

Under the health care reform law, the insurance exchange must be up and running by 2014 – whether it’s set up by Missouri, or US government.