It’s inevitable that Sarah Palin will declare that the Missouri referendum “refudiated” the new health care law enacted by Congress. We will hear the same from Missouri Representative Roy Blunt, who sides with Wall Street and the insurance companies instead of his constituents and thinks that qualifies him for a promotion to the U.S. Senate. They are both wrong.
The Missouri vote was nothing more than a Republican straw poll. It lacks any legal force, and it certainly wasn’t about health care. If supporters of reform thought this referendum was about the new law, we would have run a campaign against it. But it wasn’t, so we didn’t.
This referendum was really about local Missouri politics in an election dominated by Republican primaries for state auditor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives in the 7th and 8th districts, and many state legislative races. The truth is that this was a confusing, partisan ballot measure that included two unrelated questions—one that had nothing to do with the new law and the other that focused on only a single provision of it.
The Missouri referendum wasn’t a vote about ending unfair insurance company practices or making health care affordable. It wasn’t about stopping insurance companies from dumping you when you’re sick or ending the outrageous denial of coverage to children just because they have an illness requiring care. It wasn’t a vote on free preventive care for everyone or saving money for struggling seniors who rely on expensive prescription drugs. And it certainly wasn’t a vote on keeping millions of American families from being driven into bankruptcy by massive medical bills.
The Missouri referendum was a cynical partisan ploy to undermine the law before it even takes effect, just like the frivolous lawsuit filed by the state attorney general in Virginia. The Missouri vote was political theater for Republicans and an attempt to undermine a law that cuts health care costs for families and businesses and ends the worst of insurance company abuses.