Missouri lawmakers continue debating bills in the closing minutes of the 2012 regular session.
Among the bills passed so far today is one that would require legislative approval before a health care exchange can be created in Missouri. State Rep. Ryan Silvey (R, Kansas City) accused Governor Jay Nixon (D) of trying last year to create an exchange via executive order.
Missouri state senators listened to over 3 hours of impassioned testimony on health care reform yesterday. The hearing was supposed to be on the rather mundane question of whether Missouri should set up an online health care exchange starting in 2014, or let the federal government do so. But the hearing quickly became a forum for debating the merits of health reform itself. After the jump, two interviews with senators on the committee: a Democrat representing one of the state's most liberal districts, and a Republican who has been at the forefront of Missouri's pushback against "Obamacare."
Republican lawmakers in red states are in a pickle. The Affordable Care Act requires each state to set up a health care exchange designed to bring down insurance costs for consumers. Republicans want no part of anything related to Obama's health care reform law, which they see as a federal intrusion on states rights. But if state lawmakers don't set up an exchange, the federal government will. In September, Republican senators in Missouri prevented the state from accepting $21 million of federal money to lay the groundwork for an exchange. Next door, the Sunflower State is in a similar quandary, reports Bryan Thompson of Kansas Public Radio.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback answers questions in July about his policy regarding the new federal health care law. During his campaign for the governor's office last year, he said: "What we'll do in Kansas is we'll do what we're required to do, but we're gonna fight it all the way."
A few months ago, Kansas seemed ahead of the game in preparing for an important requirement of the federal health law. The state had started to plan for exchanges — online marketplaces to help individuals and small businesses compare and buy health insurance.
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.