JEFFERSON CITY – According to one Missouri senator this week, the “Constitution is out the window.”
The Senate Interim Committee on Health Insurance Exchanges was blindsided Thursday morning while meeting to discuss the state’s future health insurance exchange plan.
During the hearing, the committee received a notice that Gov. Jay Nixon’s staff and board members of the Missouri Health Insurance Pool, also known as the MHIP, were discussing and planning to vote on their own implementation for the state, according to Republican Sen. Luann Ridgeway.
“What are we doing here? The Constitution is out the window, the republic has dissolved and we’re going to have dictatorship by fiat,” Ridgeway said.
After Ridgeway’s announcement, Sens. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield; Jim Lembke, R-Lemay; and Rob Schaff, R-St. Joseph, left the hearing.
The exchange plan comes as a federal mandate from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law last year by President Barack Obama.
DeAnna Noriega testified in support of the health insurance exchange plan. Noriega receives health insurance through working part time.
“If we want people to take responsibility for their own health care, we have to provide a means for them to pool their money to bring the prices down. Health insurance exchanges can do this,” Noriega wrote in her testimony.
The federal government granted the MHIP $21 million dollars to start exploring the implementation of a health insurance plan for the state.
While the MHIP was scheduled to vote to use the grant, it has since postponed its actions.
“If we institute the mandated health care exchange and take the money, we will be subject to every page of the affordable care act and every mandate clarification and guidance that [the government] come[s] up with down the road,” James Coyne said in his testimony. Coyne is the owner of Coyne Agency Incorporated, a small and independent health insurance company in Columbia.
By law, Missouri has to construct its own plan or will have to accept the federal health care plan by 2014.