Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has a message for the thousands of Missourians looking for health insurance: Don't get it through an online marketplace that launches next week.
Kinder, a Republican who is Missouri's second-ranking executive, sought Monday to discourage participation in the health insurance exchanges that form the centerpiece of the 2010 Affordable Care Act signed by President Barack Obama.
Across the country, millions of dollars are being spent to spread the word about the Oct. 1 start of the enrollment period for the state-specific websites by which people can shop for health insurance policies. In Missouri, the website will be run by the federal government, but specific details about the price and terms of the policy options still haven't been released.
"I would hope there would be active resistance to this law - that people would not sign up," Kinder said Monday.
He said Missourians should "actively resist" and refuse to sign up.
That's the opposite of the message being spread by organizations such as the Missouri Foundation for Health, which is part of the Cover Missouri Coalition. At the very minimum, the health insurance website is worth a click on a computer, said Ryan Barker, vice president of health policy at the foundation.
"I would encourage Missourians to take a look at the marketplace," Barker said. "The marketplace is another option for people to compare prices and look and see if it might be something that works for themselves and their family and small business."
Missouri has roughly 800,000 people without health insurance. About half of those could be eligible for subsidized coverage through the health insurance exchange, Barker said.
Kinder's office declined comment other than to say his remarks were taken slightly out of context.
Missouri voters last year approved a measure placed on the ballot by the Republican-led Legislature that bars the governor and his administration from taking steps to establish a state-run health insurance exchange. The measure also prohibits state agencies or employees from providing "assistance or resources of any kind" to the federal government to implement its own insurance exchange in Missouri, unless such actions were authorized by a state law or required by federal law.
Kansas and Missouri were among 33 states that opted out of government funding for healthcare exchanges.
Kinder has consistently fought the federal healthcare law, at one point even filing a lawsuit challenging its implementation. He said people should refuse to sign up for the coverage offered by the health insurance exchange as a way of registering their disapproval of it. He also rejected suggestions that Missouri lawmakers should reconsider whether to state should operate its own insurance marketplace.
"I don't see any reason to enable the implementation of this law," Kinder said. He added: "I think the whole thing is in the process of collapsing."
Those providing healthcare options said they don't want there to be unnecessary confusion when enrollment opens next month.
"Regardless of what your politics are, we need to really focus on the reality here which is the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and that it is going into effect to the best of our knowledge," Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City's Wayne Powell said. "We're exerting all our energy to get ready for the new law as well as to educate the public and help individuals who are seeking to purchase insurance to guide them to the plan that best fits their needs as well as their family's needs."
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