Good news from our state government! On July 5th, Governor Jay Nixon signed into law Senate Bill 865, a bill that allows the Missouri Department of Insurance to review rates for health insurance plans offered under the Affordable Care Act. Up until this point, only federal regulators acting on behalf of the state were able to review insurance rates. Missouri was the only state to leave this responsibility to the federal government.
With this bill in effect, the Missouri Health Insurance Rate Transparency Act will be established, and insurance rates filed by insurance companies will be assessed by the Missouri Department of Insurance to determine if they are reasonable. While this law does not give the Department of Insurance the ability to deny rate increases, it is a first step in building a more transparent and consumer-focused system. Missouri consumers now will have one less thing to worry about when it comes to shopping for health insurance plans.
On this same day, Governor Nixon vetoed Senate Bill 608, a victory for low-income families, and members of the aged, blind, and disabled population. This bill would have enabled Medicaid providers to charge a steadily increasing fee to MO HealthNet patients who missed an appointment or did not cancel 24 hours beforehand. It also would have allowed these providers to refuse to schedule more appointments until the fee was paid. Additionally, Missourians would have seen increased fees for emergency room visits later deemed non-emergency.
Luckily, Governor Nixon saw this bill as one that would “needlessly punish our state’s most vulnerable citizens” and decided against it. Although it is possible for Nixon’s veto to be overridden during the September veto session, let us hope this is one decision that sticks.