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Mo. delays work on health insurance exchange

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

Missouri insurance officials have postponed a vote to draw down $13 million from Washington that would be used to help set up a health insurance exchange.  The exchange is required by the new federal health care law.

Members of the state’shealth insurance poolhad tentatively planned to take action today, but State Senators Jim Lembke(R, Lemay), Jane Cunningham(R, Chesterfield) and Rob Schaaf(R, St. Joseph) dropped in on the meeting and persuaded them to postpone the vote.

The three suspected that the resolution to be voted on was an attempt by Governor Jay Nixon(D) to create a health care exchange by executive order.

“Certainly when we look at the idea that 71 percent of Missourians voted against establishing Obamacare in the State of Missouri...this certainly is directly linked to that," Lembke said after the meeting.

Other Republican lawmakers, along with Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, also accused the governor of trying to bypass thelegislature.  But John Huff, Director of theMissouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration, called the incident a misunderstanding.

“I think there was some confusion about the purpose of the meeting," Huff said. "(It) was not to establish an exchange, (that's) really a policy decision for the legislature to make…it was really to continue the technical work that will be necessary if the state does decide to set up a state-based exchange.”

Every state is required by the year 2014 to set up an online exchange where customers can buy health coverage.  States that fail to do so will have one created for them by the federal government.

Some Missouri lawmakers have recently sponsored bills to create a state-run exchange, all of which have failed to pass.   

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.