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Nixon decries GOP health care opt-out proposal

By Bill Raack, KWMU

St. Louis – Governor Jay Nixon said an effort by some Republican lawmakers to allow the state of Missouri to opt out of mandates included in a new federal health care bill is "not reasoned thought."

Proposed legislation would amend the state constitution to exempt Missourians from participating in any kind of mandatory health insurance plan.

Nixon said backing away from a significant amount of federal money would not be a good move.

"Some versions of that bill have as much as $1.8 to $2 billion coming to help health care in our state," Nixon said. "That would have a dramatic effect on our economy. It would help people that are in need. And it we would turn that money away, it would just go to another state. Are there challenges in this bill? Are we working on it? Yes we are."

State Senator Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, is sponsoring the opt-out legislation. She said the mandates included in the health care bill are unconstitutional, and Missouri politicians are not alone in trying to protect residents' health care choices.

"There are two dozen states that are doing this same thing," Cunningham said. "When you have half the country already on board, moving in this direction, it's a very strong statement."

If approved by the legislature this spring, the earliest the constitutional amendment could appear on the ballot is November.