Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder files lawsuit against federal health care law

JEFFERSON CITY — Calling new health care regulations passed by Congress a violation of the U.S. and Missouri constitutions, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder today filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn sections of the sweeping law that mandates individual health care insurance coverage.

Kinder and three Missouri plaintiffs — including a St. Louis woman — argue that the law raises health care costs, decreases their coverage, and places unconstitutional mandates on citizens.

The lawsuit was filed by Kinder in his official capacity as lieutenant governor, as well as his personal capacity as a citizen of the state. Kinder had originally planned to join the lawsuit filed in Florida by attorneys general in other states who are opposed to the federal law.

Kinder has said the lawsuit costs will be borne by private donations made to a non-profit corporation he set up. His spokesman, Gary McElyea, said Kinder plans to make the donors public unless they request anonymity. The list of donors has not yet been made public.

“This lawsuit challenges those provisions of the federal health care law which actually reduce Missourians access to affordable health care and which violate our United States and Missouri state Constitutions.” Lt. Governor Kinder said. “Many Missourians will lose the options for health insurance they currently enjoy. Missourians have less health care coverage after the federal law was passed than they did before it was passed. The Missourians joining me in this case – and many thousands like them – now have less and more expensive health care.”

The other three plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Dale Morris of St. Louis County, Samantha Hill of Johnson County, and Julie Keathley of Stoddard County.

Morris qualifies for Medicare Advantage, the supplemental Medicare coverage that is being reduced under the new law. Keathley’s 8-year-old son suffers from autism, and the lawsuit argues that Missouri’s new autism insurance mandate is stronger than the federal law, and therefore the federal law diminishes her health care coverage.

Ironically, Gov. Jay Nixon was in Cape Girardeau today — where Kinder filed the lawsuit — bringing attention to the state’s autism mandate, which he signed earlier this year.

Democrats have criticized Kinder’s lawsuit as a campaign stunt. In a statement, Missouri Democratic Party spokesman Ryan Hobart criticized Kinder for not yet releasing the list of his donors.

“For months he has refused to disclose his donors. Missourians deserve to know if Peter Kinder is allowing his office to be subsidized by the insurance industry and its lobbyists or candidates who want this law repealed. Instead, up to this point, all of that information has been hidden from the public, even though Lieutenant Governor Kinder is using state resources to publicize his actions,” Hobart said.

During the General Assembly, Republicans pushed a bill that would seek to allow Missourians to opt out from the mandates in the federal bill. That law passed, putting on the Aug. 3 ballot a proposition that will call for Missourians to vote on the opt-out.

A lawsuit has been filed seeking to block that vote.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/political-fix/article_5d7d98fc-89d9-11df-909e-00127992bc8b.html?mode=story

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