On Tuesday, the people of Missouri voted on The Missouri Health Care Exchange Question. This is a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment offered to voters as a ballot measure.
A legislatively-referred constitutional amendment is a limited form of direct democracy, in this case a voter determined nullification.
The ballot summary reads as follows….
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?
The measure passed overwhelmingly and is now an amendment to the Missouri State Constitution.
61% – YES
38% – NO
Gov. Jay Nixon acknowledged Thursday that Missouri will not be able to set up an online marketplace for residents to shop for health insurance as envisioned under President Barack Obama’s health care plan.
“The only option for Missouri at this time is to indicate that we will be unable to proceed with a state-based exchange absent a change in circumstances.”
But he then added…
“Let me be clear that a federally facilitated exchange is not the ideal approach. Regulating the insurance market is a power best left in the hands of the states.”
Nixon said he would prefer Missouri run its own insurance exchange, but that’s not possible.
Due to voters passing this measure barring the governor from taking steps to establish a state-run insurance exchange without legislative approval, this brings the process to a halt. The Legislature has not granted its approval, and is not scheduled to be in session until January, meaning lawmakers could not meet the Nov. 16 deadline even if they wanted to do so.
Regardless of the Governor’s somewhat skewed outlook on seeing this amendment as a road block instead of a decision, he has an obligation to his voters. If he doesn’t block this on principle, one might question his competence as an elected official.