Missouri attorney general: No appeal on ballot item

Friday, August 31, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said Thursday he won't appeal a judge's decision to rewrite the summary voters will see for a health insurance ballot measure, calling the judge's revised version a truer reflection of state lawmakers' intent.

Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan had asked the attorney general to challenge a court ruling that her summary was unfair and insufficient. Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green on Tuesday ordered the use of a revised summary after Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and legislative leaders filed a lawsuit challenging Carnahan's version.

Carnahan's office said the new summary is "incomplete, uninformative and a disservice to Missouri voters."

"Although we strongly disagree with the decision by the Cole County Circuit Court, this office is not in a position to appeal the decision on its own," Carnahan's office said in a statement Thursday.

Koster said in a statement Thursday evening that the judge's summary "more accurately reflects the legislative intent than does the Secretary's proposed language."

"My job is to call balls and strikes in an impartial manner. The argument is over," said Koster, a Democrat.

The proposal, approved by Missouri's Republican-led legislature and referred to the Nov. 6 ballot, would bar state officials from creating a health insurance exchange without approval from the public or the legislature. It also would prohibit state departments from taking federal money to set up the online marketplace intended to allow consumers to shop for and compare health insurance plans.

The federal health care law requires states to create health insurance exchanges by 2014 or the federal government will run one for them.

The ballot summary will state: "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?"

Carnahan's summary had said: "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 health care act?"

Kinder said the revision is a "tremendous win" for Missouri voters.

"Secretary Carnahan's ballot summary would have unduly influenced voters to oppose this crucial ballot issue affecting health care rights," the lieutenant governor said. "I am pleased that her attempt to mislead voters failed and that Missourians now will have a fair and balanced summary when they consider this important ballot issue in November."

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