Gov. Jay Nixon and the insurance mandate
The Kansas City Star
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon made some news this week by stating during a question-and-answer session with reporters that he opposed the individual mandate.
“I think I’ve been pretty clear…that the health insurance mandate is not something that I think is a good thing,” Nixon said, according to the report.
Republican critics tore into that remark like a pack of bloodhounds. So the governor is against Obamacare? Where has he been all these three years? Why isn’t his name on the brief that the state attorney general sent to the Supreme Court?
It’s a bit of a stretch for Nixon to say that he’s been “pretty clear” that he doesn’t like the insurance mandate. He’s stayed as far away from the health care issue as he can get away with.
But I have to say that I’m heard the governor say at least once that he opposed the individual mandate. That was a few months ago when he visited with The Star’s editorial board. We asked him about creating an insurance exchange in Missouri, as the Affordable Care Act mandates, and he basically said he, like just about everybody, was waiting for the Supreme Court ruling on the individual mandate. And he did say, “I’m opposed to the individual mandate.”
At the time, my colleagues and I were mostly focused on Nixon’s waffling over whether Missouri needs to increase its ridiculously low cigarette tax. His statement about the insurance mandate seemed like a disingenuous nod to public sentiment, but it wasn’t the topic of the day and we let it pass.
The Affordable Care Act and its insurance mandate is definitely the topic of this week, though. So when I saw that Nixon had repeated his statement of opposition, I e-mailed his press handlers with a couple of questions:
Does the governor support universal insurance coverage without penalties or denial because of pre-existing conditions?
And if he does, what mechanism would he use to create a broad insurance pool of healthy people, so that insurers could cover all sick people?
It’s fine to say you oppose the individual mandate. But insurers can’t be expected to only insure people who are sick. If Nixon can’t propose another way to get healthy people into the pool, then he can’t oppose the mandate and at the same time claim to be on board with the ideal that affordable health care should be available to all Americans.
It’s been a couple of hours and I haven’t heard back from Nixon’s office. I’ll update this post if I do.