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MO Senate Pushed Bill to Stop Obamacare Health Exchanges

January 30, 2012 J

Health exchanges

Uncertainty is stalling some other parts of the Obamacare law from taking root in Missouri. Last year, for example, the legislature debated the creation of a health insurance exchange system through which consumers could shop for the most affordable health coverage. The Missouri House passed a bill, but the issue stalled in the Senate.

In this new session, two state Senate Republicans, Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph and Scott Rupp of Wentzville, have offered SB464. It forbids the governor or any state agency to take any steps to create an exchange unless it is first authorized by state statute. SB464 also calls for submitting the issue to voters in November.

Last year, Rupp chaired statewide hearings that were supposed to determine public sentiment for setting up an exchange. He issued no report but said senators would have access to a transcript of the hearings. He also said no legislation to set up an exchange should be approved before the Supreme Court ruled on the validity of the Affordable Care Act. The big issue before the court is whether the government can require individuals to buy health insurance even if they do not want it.

Sen. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa, doesn’t object to the Schaaf-Rupp proposal, but he thinks some type of insurance exchange proposal should be in place. That’s why he has filed SB608, an exchange framework, co-sponsored by Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin.

“I filed the bill to get some discussion started,” Wasson says. “It’s like an insurance policy in case the Supreme Court does not throw out the (health reform) law. This bill offers 15 to 20 talking points of what should be in the bill.”

If the court leaves all or part of the law in place, he said, “the governor could call a special session and we would already have a blueprint of what an exchange in Missouri could look like.”

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