Late yesterday, Federal Judge Ortrie Smith in Kansas City slapped down the latest too-clever-by-half scheme of the wingnut-majority on the state legislature to try to keep Missourians from benefetting from the ACA, the federal health overhaul law. See, the braying jackasses and howling hyenas in the lege thought they could a) pass on setting up an exchange, then b) impose additional restictions on the navigators that would be too onerous to comply with.
“The state law obstructs the federal purpose” by imposing onerous restrictions and requirements on people who help consumers, including groups designated as “navigators” under federal law, the judge said.
Judge Smith’s ruling applies just to Missouri, but lawyers said it had implications for more than a dozen other states that had adopted similar laws or regulations, including Florida, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin. The laws typically require licensing of counselors and navigators and limit what they can do.
Sidney D. Watson, a law professor at St. Louis University who supports the federal health law, said: “This is a very important decision. It means that certified application counselors and navigators can focus on helping consumers rather than jumping through bureaucratic hoops. They can do the important work that needs to be done to help people sign up for health insurance.”
The state laws have been promoted by Republican state legislators and by some insurance agents who say the counselors do not have the training and education needed to steer consumers through the complexities of health insurance.
They have been furiously trying to come up with a formula that proves their ignorance and dumbassery is just as good as the educations and smarts us hated “librulz” are so fond of and they really thought this one held real promise.
Judge Smith, however, saw through their crap and smacked that notion down. Hard.
Judge Smith said that the plaintiffs had already complied with federal rules for insurance counselors, but that the state had imposed a number of additional licensing requirements.
“It seems obvious these additional requirements obstruct the federal government’s operation of the federally facilitated exchange,” Judge Smith said. For that reason, he said, the state law is pre-empted by the Affordable Care Act, which has supremacy under the federal Constitution.
The Missouri law, he said, prevents counselors from doing some of the very things they are supposed to do under the federal law, like providing consumers with information about the strengths and weakness of different health plans, including those sold in the private insurance market outside the exchange.
The law is here to stay. It’s constitutional. But don’t take my word for it. Just ask Justice Roberts. The revanchists and nay-sayers and neoconfederates in the state lege are, at this point, just embarrassing themselves…or they would be, if they had the capacity to feel shame. Sociopaths notoriously don’t have that capability.