Missouri postpones further health insurance exchange efforts

Missouri Health InsuranceFollowing the voicing of concerns by several Republican senators, insurance officials from Missouri have taken a step back away from intentions to begin spending millions of dollars from the federal government on an investment into the computer technology that would be required to put a central element of the new federal health care law into place.

In August, Missouri had been awarded a federal grant of $21 million to be applied to the preparation for the health insurance exchange to be created and run by the state and would allow its residents to shop for policies online. The new healthcare law implemented by the Obama administration has given the states until 2014 to either establish their own health insurance exchanges, or to opt to have one put into place and operated for them by the federal government.

Missouri has yet to choose which path it will take. A bill that would have set state-run exchanges in motion was passed in the House in a bipartisan way earlier in 2011, but has since been halted by the Senate due to Republican senator opposition to the Obama administration’s healthcare law.

The federal grant money was scheduled to be formally accepted by the state board, at which time they would also name a project manager, form a Show-Me Health Insurance Exchange Unit, and allocate $13.7 million to hiring technical consultants for the exchange.

However, this was called off by the Missouri Health Insurance Pool’s governing board after a number of Republican senators argued that the administration of Democratic Governor Jay Nixon looked as though it was ready to put the exchange into place without the approval of the Legislature.

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