Health Insurance

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Attorney General Chris Koster won’t appeal a federal court decision striking down a new state law that allows employers to exclude contraception, abortion or sterilization from insurance coverage.

Koster, a Democrat, asked the federal judge who wrote the decision to amend her ruling so that religious organizations could exclude contraceptive coverage if they’re exempt under federal law.

John Jones, Steve Foster and Johnny Morgan at Feller's Family Restaurant, Willow Springs, Mo.
Robert Joiner | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: While  enjoying a plate of gravy and biscuits at Feller’s Family Restaurant last Friday morning in Willow Springs, Mo., Johnny Morgan energized the breakfast conversation with examples of what he regards as unwarranted government intrusion into people’s lives.

(Via Flickr/Rosemary)

More than 525,000 Missourians will be eligible to receive government subsidies to purchase private health insurance, according to a report released Thursday by the advocacy group Families USA.

(Judy Schmidt, James Gathany / CDC)

On November 6, 2012, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition E, which prohibited the Governor or any state agency from establishing or operating a state-based health insurance exchange without legislative or citizen approval.

The Affordable Care Act, however, moves on toward full implementation in 2014.

Host Don Marsh talked with Sidney Watson, Professor of Law at Saint Louis University’s Health Law Policy Center, and Ryan Barker, Director of Health Policy for the Missouri Foundation for Health.

(via Flickr/KOMUnews)

Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder is urging state lawmakers to not create a health insurance exchange or expand Medicaid when they convene for their regular session next year.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

A special committee of transportation officials is still reviewing the amount of money MoDOT workers and State Troopers pay for health insurance.

Most of the committee members are leaning towards a proposal from the Highway Patrol, which would have the state pay 60 percent of the cost and the individual employee or retiree 40 percent.  Rudy Farber is chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.  He says under the current system, the amount of coverage a worker pays varies based on numerous factors.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri will not set up an online marketplace for health insurance by the year 2014.

Gov. Jay Nixon said Thursday his administration will inform the federal government that it won't be running a state-based health insurance exchange when they're due to begin under the federal health care law. That means that the federal government will step in to create an insurance exchange in Missouri.

Credit (via Flickr/Jennifer_Boriss)

In the second of four discussions as part of our town hall meeting about statewide ballot issues we take a look at Proposition E, concerning the implementation of health insurance exchanges.

Host Don Marsh talks with Republican state Senator Jim Lembke of St. Louis County and Jennifer Bersdale, Board Member for Missouri Healthcare for All.  Lembke supports Proposition E while Bersdale opposes it.

Official Ballot Title: (source: Missouri Secretary of State website)

What percentage of people are uninsured in your county? This map out today from NPR data whiz Matt Stiles, via his personal blog, 'The Daily Viz,' can answer that question for you.

Jennifer Boriss / Flickr

A panel of healthcare experts gathered at Washington Tabernacle today to field questions from members of the community on how the Affordable Care Act would impact their lives.

Topics ranged from small businesses to Medicaid expansion in Missouri, and a large part of the discussion focused on a ballot initiative regarding health insurance exchanges in Missouri.

(Go here for in-depth coverage on Medicaid expansion and the working poor.)

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

There will be no challenge to the new language inserted onto a ballot initiative by a Cole County judge regarding health insurance exchanges.

The version initially approved by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) had asked if state law should, “deny individuals, families and small businesses the ability to access affordable health care,” unless the people or the legislature created an exchange.  In a statement, Carnahan says Attorney General Chris Koster (D) refused to file an appeal on her office’s behalf.  Lt. Governor Peter Kinder (R) filed suit against Carnahan over that language.  He applauded the Democratic Attorney General’s move.

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Updated 4:15 p.m. Thursday: Carnahan will not appeal Judge Green's new language, saying Attorney General Chris Koster refused a request for further legal action, and the Secretary of  State's office is not in a position to appeal on its own.  A full version of today's developments can be found here.

Our original story:

The language used in a ballot initiative approved by Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) has been tossed out by a Cole County judge.

Proposition E centers on the conditions for creating a health care exchange in Missouri; the language authorized by Carnahan read in part whether the law should “deny individuals, families and small businesses the ability to access affordable health care.”  Lt. Governor Peter Kinder (R) called the language used by the Secretary of State unbelievably biased.

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

(Update:  Judge Daniel Green ruled in favor of Lt. Gov. Kinder and changed the ballot language initially approved by Sec. of State 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.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri transportation officials are considering a proposal to restructure how much MoDOT workers and State Troopers pay for their life and health insurance.

Currently, the cost percentage varies, based on several individual factors.  Rudolph Farber chairs the state Highways and Transportation Commission.  He says the proposal they’re considering would have all employees pay the same percentage.

UPDATED on Friday, July 6, 2012, to add a correction from Anthem's Deborah Wiethop.

Some 588,000 Missourians will get money back from their health insurance companies this month.

The federal healthcare law requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on health care and quality improvement. The rest can go to administrative costs, marketing and profits.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Seniority, income determining factors in new Illinois insurance law

Governor Pat Quinn's office announced early this morning that he has signed a measure that will require retired state and public university employees to kick in more money for their health insurance. 

Retirees with at least 20 years of service currently get free health coverage. Those with less time on the job pay for a portion of the cost.

(via Flickr/hlkljgk)

Two ballot questions going before Missouri voters in November won’t cost or save the state any money, according the State Auditor’s office.

One in particular would make changes to how appellate judges are selected.  The fiscal note for that measure was put together by Deputy Auditor Harry Otto.

“(We contacted) four statewide offices, 20 other departments/agencies, the House and Senate," Otto said.  "Out of those 24 places that we contacted we received comments from 16, and all 16 said ‘no costs associated with this measure.’”

(via Flickr/brains the head)

Missouri senators have passed legislation specifically allowing employers to refuse, on religious ground, to provide health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization or abortion.

The Senate's 28-6 vote Friday moved the bill to the Missouri House, where it was passed during mid-afternoon.

(via Flickr/Jennifer_Boriss)

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Guy Stephens and Brian Mackey was used in this report.

Longtime state employees would no longer be able get free health insurance when they retire under legislation approved by the Illinois House today.

The vote is part of a push to cut pension benefits for government retirees. The governor, House speaker and other officials want to save money by cutting pensions, health care and other costs.

House Republican Leader Tom Cross says it's the first of many difficult votes to come.

(via Flickr/Jennifer_Boriss)

The Missouri Senate has rejected an attempt to set up a state-run health insurance exchange.

The exchanges are part of the federal health care law approved in 2009. States are required to create exchanges by 2014 so that individuals and small business can compare health insurance plans.

On Monday, Sen. Joe Keaveny tried to add an amendment setting up the exchanges to a life insurance bill being debated by the Senate.

The full Senate rejected the amendment in a voice vote.

(via flickr/yomanimus)

Mo. revenues behind amount needed for budget

Missouri's revenues continue to be behind what is needed to balance the budget. January's figures show that net state revenues grew two percent over the same month last year.

The fiscal year began in July. For the first seven months of the 2012 fiscal year, Missouri's general revenues were up 1.3 percent. That is almost half the 2.7 percent growth rate that the governor's budget office says is needed to meet the budget.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A State Senate committee heard testimony today on legislation designed to block Governor Jay Nixon (D) from creating a health insurance exchange.

The proposed exchange is part of the national health care law signed by President Obama nearly two years ago.  All states are required to have an online exchange where customers can buy health coverage, and any state that doesn’t have one by the year 2014 will have one created for them by Washington.  The bill sponsored by State Senator Rob Schaaf (R, St. Joseph) would block the Governor and any agency under his authority from creating an exchange by executive order.

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

Missouri insurance officials have postponed a vote to draw down $13 million from Washington that would be used to help set up a health insurance exchange.  The exchange is required by the new federal health care law.

Members of the state’s health insurance pool had tentatively planned to take action today, but State Senators Jim Lembke (R, Lemay), Jane Cunningham (R, Chesterfield) and Rob Schaaf (R, St. Joseph) dropped in on the meeting and persuaded them to postpone the vote.

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

Missouri has received a federal grant of close to $21 million to help build an online health insurance exchange.

(via Flickr/rosmary)

Missouri's high-risk health insurance pool is cutting its rates by 23 percent.

The state Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration announced the cut in rates Tuesday.  The high-risk insurance pool is funded by an $81 million federal grant.

Department spokesman Travis Ford says the decrease is for both new and existing policyholders.

A report by Elana Gordon, KCUR

Missouri's new high-risk insurance program is dropping premiums by as much as 25 percent. 

The state launched the pool this summer as part of the federal health law.

(via Flickr/kennedy22)

Steven Powell wants to change the way health care providers charge for their product.

Powell, a factory worker, filed suit Friday challenging a billing practice known as balance billing.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: