JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP)—Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and other top Republican legislative leaders said Tuesday they were filing a lawsuit accusing the Secretary of State’s office of writing a health-care measure ballot summary that is “blatantly false, deceptive and intended to mislead the people.”
The Republican-controlled Legislature approved a statewide ballot measure for November that would ask voters whether Missouri officials should be barred from creating a health insurance exchange without approval from voters or the Legislature. It also would prohibit state departments from taking federal money to prepare for the online marketplace that would allow consumers to shop for and compare health insurance plans. The federal health-care law requires states to create a health insurance exchange by 2014 or have one operated for them by the federal government.
Lawmakers did not write their own ballot summary, so the responsibility fell to Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. She approved one July 3.
Carnahan’s summary states: “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 the health-care act?”
Republicans said that wording is argumentative, rather than informative, and wrongly implies Missouri’s proposal would deny access to affordable health-care plans. Instead, they contend the ballot measure would allow Missourians to decide whether the state will adopt a health insurance exchange through a public vote or with approval from elected lawmakers.
The Secretary of State’s office defended its ballot summary.
“Obviously, some candidates see this as good political theatre during an election year, but we maintain that this is a fair and sufficient summary of the ballot measure,” Carnahan spokesman Ryan Hobart said. “Ultimately, we feel confident that it will hold up in court.”