Reject unhealthy Missouri ballot item, Proposition E
The Kansas City Star
The Missouri legislature’s paranoia over the federal Affordable Care Act will be thrust upon voters Nov. 6 in the form of Proposition E.
It is a foolish and harmful ballot measure that deserves a resounding No.
Proposition E is a reflection of Republican hysteria about the possibility that Gov. Jay Nixon might exert leadership and act without the legislature’s consent to get started a state-based health insurance exchange.
That would have been a good idea. Missouri is far behind the timeline for setting up an exchange as called for in the federal law. But Nixon backed off as soon as the “Obamacare” vigilantes in the state Senate objected. He didn’t need a ballot proposition to tell him to sit on his hands.
Proposition E bars the governor or any state agency “from establishing or operating state-based health insurance exchanges unless authorized by a vote of the people or by the legislature.”
That would be understandable if the Missouri legislature had proved itself capable of establishing an exchange, which is an online marketplace for health insurance plans. The House approved a strong bill creating such an exchange two years ago. But the Senate would have nothing to do with it.
Because of that intransigence, Missouri’s exchange will be created from a template designed by federal employees.
But Proposition E bars any state agency or employee from cooperating with federal staffers about the establishment of an exchange unless a state statute authorizes the contact or “such assistance or resources are specifically required by federal law.”
Further, any citizen who thinks a state worker has violated that restriction could sue the state and its departments and officials. If the court agreed, the department or agency would have to pick up the legal fees.
That would place employees in the departments of insurance and social services and other agencies in the untenable position of wondering whether simply writing a memo could get them sued.
Proposition E is horrible public policy. The legislature was irresponsible to place it on the ballot. Voters should let them know that.