By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog
ST. LOUIS — A Missouri judge threw out Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan’s summary of a health-care exchange ballot measure Tuesday, replacing it with new language backed by state Republicans.
The move could delay further the printing of ballots for the Nov. 6 general election. Carnahan has until Sept. 7 to appeal the decision to the state’s Supreme Court.
SOS spokeswoman Stacie Temple said the office’s consideration of its legal options should not disenfranchise any voters.
“Our goal is certainly to have this resolved before the local election authorities have to print those ballots,” she told Missouri Watchdog. “Everyone is aware of the deadline we’re pushing up against.”
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, led a group of other Republicans who filed a lawsuit in August over Carnahan’s summary, which they called deceptive. Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green agreed and changed the wording.
The summary now says: “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 wording said: “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?”
The Missouri General Assembly approved the ballot measure this summer. Under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, states must create health-care exchanges or have the federal government run one for them.
Kinder applauded the ruling.
“It is imperative that voters have a clear and impartial summary on this crucial ballot issue that affects our healthcare rights and taxpayer dollars,” he said in a statement.
Carnahan released a statement that said her office “has a legal obligation to provide Missourians with fair and sufficient summaries of ballot measures. We still believe our summary meets that legal standard.”