JEFFERSON CITY • The Missouri attorney general’s office will not appeal a Cole County judge’s ruling this week that removed one of Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s ballot summaries from the November ballot.
Judge Dan Green on Tuesday sided with Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and other Republican officials, who said Carnahan’s summary for a measure that deals with the creation of a state-based health insurance exchange was not “fair and sufficient,” as required by law.
With the decision not to appeal, voters will see on the ballot:
"Shall Missouri law be amended to prohibit the governor or any state agency from establishing or operating state-based health insurance exchanges unless authorized by a vote of the people or by the Legislature?"
In a statement today, the secretary of state’s office again said that it stands behind its ballot wording and believes it to be fair and sufficient,
“Although we strongly disagree with the decision by the Cole County Circuit Court, this office is not in a position to appeal the decision on its own. We are disappointed that Attorney General (Chris) Koster has refused our request to file an appeal,” Carnahan’s office said in the statement. “The new summary language is incomplete, uninformative and a disservice to Missouri voters who must decide on the critical issue of how and when Missouri individuals, families and small businesses will have access to affordable health care.”
The ballot measure would block the creation of a state-based health insurance exchange tied to the federal Affordable Care Act, unless approved by Missouri voters or the state Legislature. Supporters say they want to prevent the governor and state agencies from creating a state exchange through other channels, as some are attempting in other states.
Under the federal health care law, states can create their own health insurance exchanges, which are meant to be one-stop marketplaces for consumers to compare and purchase health plans. The federal government will create exchanges for those that don’t.
Missouri's GOP-controlled Legislature earlier this year approved putting the proposal to voters, but lawmakers did not draft their own summary - leaving the task to Carnahan, a Democrat.
Carnahan’s ballot summary asked:
"Shall Missouri law be amended to deny individuals, families, and small businesses the ability to access affordable health care plans through a state-based health benefit exchange unless authorized by statute, initiative or referendum or through an exchange operated by the federal government as required by the federal health care act?”
On his decision not to appeal, Koster, also a Democrat, said Greene’s summary more accurately reflects the Legislature's intent.
"My job is to call balls and strikes in an impartial manner," he said. "The argument is over.”
Kinder and other Missouri Republicans have been outspoken critics of the federal health care law, and the ballot measure is one of several challenges they have mounted over it.
"Secretary Carnahan’s ballot summary would have unduly influenced voters to oppose this crucial ballot issue affecting healthcare rights," Kinder said in a statement today. "I am pleased that her attempt to mislead voters failed and that Missourians now will have a fair and balanced summary when they consider this important ballot issue in November."