The Buzz

May 29, 2013

Blunt, McCaskill spar over Obamacare

In separate stops in KC Tuesday, Missouri’s two senators take opposing views on new health care law

The Buzz

The facts, faces and hum of local politics with Steve Kraske and Dave Helling

In separate stops in Kansas City on Tuesday, Missouri’s two U.S. senators offered competing views of how Obamacare will impact the state when it goes into effect next year.

Following a tour of Superior Linen Supply, 3001 Cherry St., Blunt said he’s worried about the new law’s hidden impact.

“There are lots of unintended consequences we see developing between now and next year,” he said.

One example: There are lots of workers with health coverage who may lose it next year because their business drops coverage as a result of the new law’s complications.

“I’m very concerned about it,” Blunt said.

Later Tuesday, in a stop at the Jackson County’s prosecutor’s office she once led, Democrat Claire McCaskill acknowledged that the law remains unpopular.

“But,” she added, “people forget what the status quo was.

“More and more people were falling out of the ranks of the insured because small businesses couldn’t afford the premiums. More and more of them were showing up in emergency rooms, and the costs of that care was being passed on to everyone who had insurance, which made more and more people drop out of the ranks of being insured and more and more people going to emergency rooms.

“We were in a viscous cycle that wasn’t going to be broken, and eventually it was going to end up with completely unaffordable health insurance rates in this country. So we took a bold step and tried to do something about it, and it has been painful, and it is hard, and I know it’s not perfect.”

She pointed out that small businesses under 50 workers are exempted from the new law and might even benefit because they can deduct the cost of premiums going forward.

McCaskill denounced the GOP-led Missouri General Assembly for rejecting Medicaid expansion.

“That is going to cost a loss of jobs in rural hospitals,” she said.

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