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Kinder cuts deal with Koster on health-care suit

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has retooled his lawsuit against the federal health-care law to make it clear that he's not suing on behalf of the state of Missouri.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, in turn,dropped his court challenge of Kinder's initial suit, which Koster said at the time was ambiguous as to the lieutenant governor's intent.

Kinder spokesman Gary McElyea said today that both offices engaged in negotiations in "a bipartisan manner" (Kinder is a Republican, and Koster a Democrat) over how best to resolve their dispute.

The bottom line: Kinder revised his language with a simple sentence, and Koster dropped his objections. Both changes were made late last week.

Koster spokeswoman Nanci Gonder concurred with the Kinder camp's basic account. "We feel the language they added conforms,'' she said, with state law stipulating that only the attorney general can sue on behalf of the state.

The language added states, "Lt. Gov. Kinder is not bringing this case on behalf of the state of Missouri as a state."

McElyea said Kinder's changes make it clear that he is suing as a private citizen and in his role as the state's "senior advocate."

Kinder also has increased the number of elderly co-plaintiffs to five Medicare recipients who contend in the suit that they will be harmed by the federal law's phaseout of the more costly Medicare Advantage option. No word on when a judge will next hear the case.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.