Report: Mo. AG says he won't appeal ballot summary ruling

Jessica M. Karmasek Aug. 31, 2012, 11:45am


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said this week he won't appeal a judge's ruling rewriting the ballot summary of a health insurance proposal.

The proposal, on the state's Nov. 6 general election ballot, asks voters to decide whether state officials should be barred from creating a health insurance exchange without voter approval or approval from the state Legislature.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, asked Koster to challenge a Cole County judge's decision, issued earlier this week.

Circuit Judge Dan Green, calling Carnahan's original ballot summary "unfair" and "insufficient," ordered the secretary on Tuesday to instead use a GOP-supported revised summary.

Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and a group of state lawmakers filed a lawsuit challenging Carnahan's version.

Koster, who left the state's Republican Party in 2007 and became a Democrat, told The Associated Press Thursday that he refused Carnahan's request to challenge the judge's ruling.

He told the AP that the new wording "more accurately reflects lawmakers' intent."

The new question will ask: "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?"

The original summary asked: "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?"

Carnahan's office said in a statement that it was disappointed with the attorney general's decision.

"The new summary language is incomplete, uninformative and a disservice to Missouri voters who must decide on the critical issue of how and when Missouri individuals, families and small businesses will have access to affordable health care."

Health insurance exchanges are a key part of President Barack Obama's health care law, allowing individuals -- and businesses -- to compare prices of insurance plans and make a purchase.

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