Medicaid, Obamacare and Missouri lawmakers

October 1 is a very important day this year.

Not only are the new online portals for health insurance slated to open but also it’s my birthday. Plus I’ll be starting a five-day, crazy-awesome trip to New York City for my business reporting class.

But, more relevant for the rest of the interwebs, the health insurance exchanges or marketplaces run by the federal government are supposed to go live in just two short days. But both state-run exchanges and federally-managed ones are facing problems and delays that may inconvenience anyone eager to jump right in. The individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act won’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2014, though, and to meet that deadline, people won’t have to purchase through the online exchanges until Dec. 15., 2013.

In Missouri, there’s a federally-run exchange. Because, as we’ve covered already, the voters passed an initiative prohibiting the state from creating one back in 2012.

Read more of this post

No infighting here, folks

The Missouri House Republicans appear to have agreed to forgive and move forward, according to news reports about a Friday meeting of the majority of the “flimsy 15.”

Springfield News-Leader’s Jonathan Shorman reports that Speaker Tim Jones has reached out to the groups of Republican representatives who voted against the tax cut bill override. From his story:

Since then, the speaker has been reaching out to the group. Morris said he spoke with Jones on the phone for about 35 minutes Thursday night. He also said other members have spoken with the speaker as well.

“He really wants to help us in any way possible, and he’s willing to go forward,” Morris said. “I think the agreement today is we need to go forward, we need to work together.”

So while for a short period there it looked like the Republican party in Missouri might implode (to be way too dramatic about it), no such meltdown actually happened.

Read more of this post

The Missouri Legislature’s Veto Session: Fodder for Campaign Ads

After some intense campaigning on both sides of the income tax cut bill, Gov. Jay Nixon emerged with a tightly won victory.

Of course, he had 10 other vetoes overridden by the Republican-controlled Missouri General Assembly. But the two most controversial and attention-getting bills failed to pass. The biggest losers from the marathon, more than 12-hour veto session, however, may turn out to be the Republican lawmakers in the House who voted against the tax cut bill.

Several groups (and some well known conservatives) have attacked them for being “Republicans in Name Only,” or “RINOs.” There’s a Wall of Shame post put up by United for Missouri, one of the groups that vigorously supported an override. Dana Loesch, a well-known conservative commentator, called for the 15 Republicans who voted against the tax cut to be challenged in primaries. And the Club for Growth, another pro-tax-cut group, tweeted asking for $15 donations to “help get rid of Missouri RINOs.”

So the votes taken on Wednesday may well become key points in the next round of elections for Missouri legislative seats in 2014. Or maybe there will be a completely new issue that’s distracted everyone or a more recent vote on the topic of taxes to fend off accusations of “RINO”-ness.

Read more of this post

Ads to promote Missouri healthcare exchange

Missouri residents may soon see television advertisements urging them to sign up for healthcare insurance through a federally-operated exchange.

Missouri is one of 13 Republican-dominated states (and the only one with a Democratic governor), where the Center for Medicare Services at the Dept. of Health and Human Services has reserved airtime starting Sept. 30. The total value of airtime reserved in these states? At least $12 million, according to Politico.

Missouri is one of 27 states where the federal government will be operating a health insurance marketplace for consumers to purchase insurance. Indeed, 61 percent of Missouri voters passed a ballot measure in 2012 banning the state from creating a health insurance exchange.

Because of this, any state involvement in the exchange has been indirect. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that a St. Louis-based nonprofit pays the salary of an “invisible coordinator” who works with the social services director and is known as the state’s Affordable Care Act coordinator.

Read more of this post