Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First health insurance exchange hearing held in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCUR) - A Missouri Senate committee tasked with drafting recommendations for a state health exchange held the first of at least three statewide hearings in Kansas City on Tuesday.

Exchanges are new organizations under the federal health law, intended to provide a more organized and competitive market for buying health insurance.

But yesterday’s hearing wrestled with the very notion of developing one in Missouri.

The eight-member committee focused the majority of the nearly four and a half hour, packed hearing, on asking the state’s Insurance Director and Attorney General about the legalities of an exchange, what kind of role the federal government would have in one, and how an exchange would actually work.

Senate committee member Jane Cunningham worried that creating an exchange would weaken Missouri’s and other state’s legal challenges to the federal health law, and its requirement that people buy health insurance. But Attorney General Chris Koster said, "I don’t think that however the legislature decides to move will affect the outcome of the case."

Koster also said if an exchange does not require people to buy coverage in it, then it doesn’t appear to violate proposition C – that’s the legislation that prohibits insurance mandates in the state. At least two others hearings are scheduled next month for Columbia and Jefferson City.

Elana Gordon, KCUR


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