September 22, 2014

Senator says wait and see on state health insurance exchange

The Chair of a Senate Committee considering how Missouri will prepare for federal health care reform says the most likely action is none at all.

The Senate Interim Committee on Health Insurance Exchanges was tasked with considering the creation of a health insurance exchange or marketplace, as expected of each state by 2014 under the Affordable Health Care Act. Chairman Scott Rupp says the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to hear oral arguments on the Act next year has changed the need for the legislature to take any action. “That is a new wrinkle we have not had to deal with,” the Wentzville senator says. “That puts into question what the state will do. Some are advocating just waiting and seeing what happens.”

Rupp adds, given the current makeup of the Missouri Senate, he thinks it is unlikely a bill would be passed through that chamber. “We here in Missouri are not concerned with dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s and hitting the wish list of the federal government’s time demands on us. We’re a sovereign state and we will do things that we see best for Missourians, and if that doesn’t coincide with the federal government’s timeline or wish list then so be it.”

The federal government is anticipated to create an exchange in any state that does not create its own, but Rupp says there are questions about whether funding exists for it to do so. “They only have funding to provide states incentives to implement a system.”

The Senator believes even if the Supreme Court rules the individual mandate does not violate the Constitution, the state will have time to create an exchange. “You can have that argument of, ‘OK if you don’t meet their deadline I think they give you more time, which they consistently have on other programs.’”

The Springfield meeting is the Committee’s last. Senator Rupp says those who still want to provide input can do so by contacting his office, here. He adds, questions or thoughts submitted will be shared with the rest of the Committee members.