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.
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.
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.
Kinder has consistently fought the federal health care 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 the 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."