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Recent Missouri Editorials

October 9, 2018

The Kansas City Star, Oct. 7

Josh Hawley wants to end Obamacare. But he doesn’t have a better idea

U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley continues to struggle with facts and logic in the debate over health insurance in America and coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Hawley, the Republican looking to knock off Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, recently wrote a column outlining his plan to protect patients with pre-existing conditions from losing health insurance.

His proposal is incoherent.

Remember: Missouri is one of 20 states suing the federal government to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Officials in those states argue that since Congress ended penalties for people who don’t buy insurance, all of Obamacare should fall.

McCaskill has criticized Hawley for pursuing the case. Full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, she knows, will eliminate popular parts of the law, including the guarantee that sick people can get good insurance coverage at a reasonable cost.

Hawley knows it, too. That’s why he’s insisted he wants to protect people with pre-existing conditions if Obamacare is killed.

But the plan he released this week doesn’t come close to delivering on that promise.

Hawley says everyone would get insurance at roughly the same price with the same coverage. He goes on to say: “The federal government would then pay for insurance costs that exceed, say, $10,000. And the insurers, in turn, would be required to give most of the premiums they collect from these patients to the government.”

The Hawley campaign says that means the federal government would pay premium costs “above a certain threshold” for patients with pre-existing conditions. It says that will keep premium costs low.

But that also means insurance companies would be getting a taxpayer-financed federal subsidy to cover those patients. Hawley’s answer? Require insurers to send premiums back to Washington.

That’s just silly. If you give a barber $15 to cut your hair, and she cuts your hair, you can’t ask for the money back when she’s done. She’ll soon go out of business. Insurance companies would face the same fate.

And there’s an easier way to accomplish the same goal: Allow patients with pre-existing conditions to enroll in Medicare, which is taxpayer-supported. This, Hawley will not do.

Hawley’s plan also leaves a serious problem unaddressed: Why would anyone buy health insurance? Americans could wait until they get sick, apply for pre-existing condition coverage, and Uncle Sam would pay for it.

The Affordable Care Act is far from perfect. But there’s a reason Republicans have failed for years to find a workable alternative: Health insurance that covers everyone must include everyone.

Without an individual insurance mandate, claims are too expensive for private companies to pay. They have to raise rates for everyone, or turn people away, or both.

Republicans used to understand this. That’s why they invented the individual mandate.

There are only three ways to approach this problem. One is to deny coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions, which Hawley says he opposes. The second is the mechanism in Obamacare, which Hawley wants repealed.

The third is public health coverage for everyone, sometimes known as single-payer insurance. We’re not ready to endorse that concept. But the Affordable Care Act should not be discarded entirely, which Hawley seeks to do, unless there’s an alternative that covers all Americans at a reasonable cost without excessive government spending.

Hawley’s proposal fails to achieve either goal.

A federal judge in Texas heard arguments on the case in September and could rule before Election Day. He should do so. It would be helpful for all Missourians to think about what it would mean if Obamacare ends without anything to replace it.

In the meantime, Hawley should work on improving his health care plan, which is confusing and unfinished.


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Oct. 8

Missouri’s voter ID law was designed to discourage voting. It should go.

Long before Donald Trump first spouted his lie that hordes of illegal voters had swarmed the polling places — his transparent attempt to soothe his own ego and explain to the nation his substantial loss of the 2016 popular vote — the Republican Party was already fully engaged in its own ongoing big lie about voter fraud. With demographics working against it, the party for years has falsely claimed rampant illegal voting, with the goal of suppressing as many Democratic votes as possible.

The marriage of convenience between the GOP’s partisan cynicism and Trump’s narcissism led to last year’s creation of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The commission yielded few if any new findings of fraud but wasted lots of time, money and resources.

Around the same time, a Missouri law requiring voters to show a photo ID before casting their votes took effect. As with Trump’s fake commission, it was a deliberately cumbersome solution to a nonexistent problem.

Now a judge is pondering whether to throw out Missouri’s voter ID law on constitutional grounds. He should.

So shameless has the GOP been in promoting this particular lie that it needs to be stated plainly: There isn’t one scintilla of evidence that illegal voting by undocumented migrants or anyone else is substantially happening in America at all today, let alone that it’s moving the electoral needle.

Even the Missouri law’s biggest booster, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, while promoting it last year, could point to just one — one — confirmed instance of voter-impersonation in Missouri. When is the last time a major new restriction was imposed on all state citizens based on just one inconsequential act?

Supporters of the law argue it isn’t restrictive to make voters show a photo ID or some other form of identification to prove their identity. That argument ignores the estimated 300,000 voting-age Missourians who lack a driver’s license; elderly voters in particular could be affected. There are several workarounds available to those without photo IDs, but obviously the more complicated you make the system, the more intimidating it will be to voters. Some will decide not to brave the process at all, and GOP lawmakers calculate the deterrent value will work to their favor.

Against all that, the law is plainly unnecessary: We already have a voter-registration system that prevents double-voting and voter impersonation, and apparently the system works just fine since such fraud almost never happens.

Senior Cole County Judge Richard Callahan will rule this week on the voter ID lawsuit, in which plaintiffs argue the law violates the state Constitution. In fact, this law was created for the specific purpose of undermining the whole concept of constitutional democracy with a bad-faith partisan goal of suppressing the vote. Into the dustbin it should go.


The Joplin Globe, Oct 6

Our view: Reasons to be hopeful

Despite partisan hostility in Washington, things are looking up in a lot of ways this week, both nationally and locally.

First, Amazon announced Tuesday that it plans to raise to $15 and hour the minimum wage it pays its workers.

That’s good news both nationally and locally. Why is that helpful here? After all, we don’t have an Amazon Fulfillment Center in the area. Amazon is a big employer. The pay increase applies to more than 250,000 and includes those at the grocery chain Whole Foods, as well as more than 100,000 seasonal employees to be hired for the holiday season. Increasing those wages will put upward pressure on wages throughout a large portion of the economy. That will hopefully break the logjam that has keep wages flat for years while the rest of the economy has grown.

Amazon had faced strong criticism for low wages at a time of booming growth and profitability for the company.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, said in a statement. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

We hope they will.

Missouri will help several local businesses train both new and existing workers. The move will help the workers and the companies that employ them to remain competitive within their industries. Businesses will benefit from $5.1 million that has been awarded to companies across the state by the Department of Economic Development’s Division of Workforce Development.

The move is intended to improve business retention and recruitment. While economic development efforts seem to focus on the whizbang of pulling in new companies and building new facilities, it is good to see work and funding going to help grow and retain the industries we have.

Optimism in Baxter Springs

Baxter Springs, Kansas, is seeing a flush of excitement as the city’s historic downtown district is revitalized.

The city was hard-hit by a tornado in 2014. It also took serious economic damage when the local Walmart closed in 2015, greatly cutting into the city’s sales tax base. But the area of the town along and near historic Route 66 is being reborn as vacant buildings are renovated and new construction takes shape. Most notably, the Decades of Wheels project, set to open the weekend of Oct. 12, is drawing a lot of notice.

It is great to see a restoration of optimism to the community. We hope it is amply rewarded.

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