(Update: Judge Daniel Green ruled in favor of Lt. Gov. Kinder and changed the ballot language initially approved by Sec. of State Carnahan...an updated version of this story can be found here.)
A Cole County judge heard arguments today in a lawsuit that claims Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) deliberately used misleading language in a ballot initiative regarding the creation of a health insurance exchange.
The language in question asks in part if the law should “deny individuals, families and small businesses the ability to access affordable health care.” Attorney Jay Kanzler represents Lt. Governor Peter Kinder (R) and a group of Republican legislative leaders who filed suit.
“The choice is between a state exchange or a federal exchange," Kanzler said. "It is not a choice between having an exchange or not having an exchange…there will be health benefit exchanges come January 1st, 2014, no matter what the choice of the people of Missouri is.”
Solicitor General Jeremiah Morgan argued on behalf of the Secretary of State’s office. He told 19th Circuit Judge Daniel Green (R) that Carnahan’s language is accurate and that Kinder and his GOP cohorts are trying to block the implementation of President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
“This couldn’t be any clearer," Morgan said. "What they’re trying to do is deny every possible way to create a health benefit exchange through the state, or even a federal one.”
Judge Green questioned some of Morgan’s arguments during today’s hearing, but adjourned without making a ruling. There's no word yet on when that will come. The health insurance exchange initiative will be identified as Proposition E on the Missouri ballot, once it's printed. It originated as a bill that was passed this year by the General Assembly.