Where were three successive Missouri attorneys general as a medical insurance entity here was allegedly ripping off its customers all over the country for years? Federal authorities earlier this year finally shut down the Missouri-based Medical Cost Sharing Inc. But complaints about the company had come to the state attorney general’s office as early as 2017, when Josh Hawley held the post. Those complaints elicited vague assurances that Hawley’s office was “mediating” the issue. Two attorneys general later, the response is the same shrug-off.
Perhaps Hawley and his successor, Eric Schmitt, were both too busy with national ideological crusades designed to get them both to the U.S. Senate. Current Attorney General Andrew Bailey — apparently having learned well from his fellow Republican predecessors — is now busy meddling with school policies that don’t even fall under his purview but are great outrage fodder for the right.
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As The Kansas City Star reported, Medical Cost Sharing Inc. was essentially a health insurance company. Members paid premiums in exchange for the promise that any future medical bills would be covered — but under the auspices of a Christian-focused nonprofit.
The Justice Department alleges that, using various excuses, the organization routinely refused to pay claims for long-time members who had in some cases been paying as much as $750 a month in premiums for years. Many were left holding five-figure medical bills as the company’s owners pocketed millions. Following FBI raids of the company in December, a judge in January issued an injunction freezing the company’s finances pending further investigation.
The allegations, around for years, sound custom-made for action from the Missouri attorney general, the state’s top legal official. But Hawley, who won the office in 2016 with a campaign decrying “ladder-climbing” by politicians, was busy climbing toward the Senate (in large part, ironically enough, by joining a partisan lawsuit against the federal government that would have limited Missourians’ health care options).
After Hawley left for Washington halfway through his term, Schmitt stepped in and began filing showy lawsuits against Missouri school districts, China and others over pandemic issues, while doing nothing substantive to confront the alleged insurance fraud happening under his nose. Now that Schmitt, too, has ladder-climbed to the Senate, Bailey is directing the power of his office at non-issues like a silly controversy over a drag show during a school diversity event in Columbia.
As for the fraud victims, Bailey’s office says he’d “be happy to look into their specific complaints.” How big of him.
So it took the feds to do the job that three Republican state attorneys general couldn’t be bothered with, because they were too busy feeding red meat to the base. What a perfect illustration of how ill-served Missourians are by an important office that seems more focused on electioneering than upholding the law.