Just say no to Brad Lager's irresponsible special session idea
The Kansas City Star
Missouri Sen. Brad Lager, who wants the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, is asking Gov. Jay Nixon and leaders of the House and Senate to call a special session so that Missouri can opt out of its obligations under the constitutional federal Affordable Care Act.
That’s a great idea to just say “no” to.
Missouri needs to take a break from special sessions. The one called last summer lasted seven weeks, cost $281,000 and produced next to nothing. Why risk a repeat of that debacle?
Rushing to Jefferson City to opt out of Obamacare provisions would surely appeal to the majority of Republican legislators and their base. If they are responsible, however, they’ll realize the folly of doing so without hearings and an extended, thoughtful discussion.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act also bars the federal government from yanking all of a state’s Medicaid funding if the state doesn’t raise Medicaid limits to the level mandated in the federal health law. With that hammer removed, many states with Republican legislatures and/or governors are now threatening to opt out of the new limits, possibly leaving millions of low-income Americans still uninsured. These states say they can’t afford to expand their Medicaid programs, even though the federal government would at first pick up 100 percent of the cost of the expansion and would never pay less than 90 percent.
Data compiled last year by the Urban Institute shows that complying with the new limits would add about $2.9 million to Missouri’s Medicaid costs between 2014 and 2019.
However, that cost would be offset by as much as $1.1 million in savings which the state currently pays for care for people without health insurance. More savings would be achieved as the federal government picks up the cost for Missourians who are currently served by state mental health programs. Full participating in the Affordable Care Act could end up being a break-even proposition or even a net gain for Missouri.
It’s pretty irresponsible for anybody, let alone a guy running for lieutenant governor, to be demanding that the state spend taxpayers’ money on a special session to make a knee-jerk decision that wouldn’t be good for the state.
Lager’s primary opponent, incumbent Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, isn’t exactly known as a beacon or restraint and responsibility. But even he knows better than to suggest a special session.