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06 September 2011

Ridgeway: What's Next in the Health Care Debate? Health Insurance Exchanges

As the past legislative session came to a close, I was appointed to serve on the Missouri Senate Interim Committee on Health Insurance Exchanges. This committee’s task is to examine the issue of whether Missouri should set up health insurance exchanges in line with the new federal health care law and if so, how best to do it.

As a state and nation we are poised at the crossroads of the future of health care. Passage of the federal health care act was contentious and arguably led to the change in party control of the House of Representatives. There is no question it played a major role in the election to fill the United States Senate seat of the late Edward Kennedy in Massachusetts.

The contention has not ended with passage of the new law. Money is available for which states may apply to help pay for start-up costs. Kansas made headlines recently when Governor Sam Brownback announced the state would send back a $31.5 million grant to the federal government. In a press release, Governor Brownback expressed concern as to whether future money would be available from Washington D.C. to continue the programs. Kansas follows Oklahoma as the second state to refuse the money.

As a member of the State Senate and the interim committee, I am committed to listening to testimony with an open mind. At the same time I am acutely aware of the direction our country has been heading the last couple years and I am very concerned. The citizens of this great nation are being coached to look to Washington D.C. for their survival and happiness. When this happens, the results can be anything but good. Our country was founded on self-reliance, hard work, and innovation. Lately we seem to be headed in the direction of entitlement programs and reliance on government. No matter how many times you hear differently, government cannot create wealth, it can only redistribute it. At some point, redistribution leads to a loss of incentive, both on the part of those producing wealth and those receiving the fruits of someone else’s efforts.

I will keep you updated as work on this issue continues. If you would like to share your views on this matter, please do so before September 15th, as this is currently the date of the last meeting of the interim committee.

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