June 26--JEFFERSON CITY -- Republicans pounced this morning on news reports that Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is distancing himself from the federal Affordable Care Act, just as the act's legality is about to be decided.
St. Louis Public Radio reported that, while speaking with reporters in St. Louis on Monday, Nixon questioned the linchpin of the act, the mandate that requires individuals to buy health insurance.
"I think I've been pretty clear...that the health insurance mandate is not something that I think is a good thing," Nixon said, according to the report.
"Without going into great detail, having the government order you to buy something like that is not something that in the past I've supported," he said.
Republicans wasted no time attacking Nixon's statement as a 180-degree turn and "revisionist history."
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder noted that Nixon did not join legal challenges that sought to block the law.
"In June of 2010, while I was vigorously raising private money to fund a constitutional challenge to Obamacare, Gov. Nixon told reporters, 'the job now is to attempt to implement the law of the land,'" Kinder said in a statement.
GOP gubernatorial hopeful Dave Spence challenged Nixon "to point to one prior on-the-record comment or letter or speech or email or tweet or FaceBook post or hand-written note or message in a bottle that would support his ridiculous claim that his stance against Obamacare has been 'pretty clear.'"
Nixon's office did not immediately respond to a request to clarify his position.
But if the U.S. Supreme Court throws out the entire act, one of the programs that would fall is an expansion of the joint federal-state Medicaid program, which covers low-income people. Nixon has campaigned in the past on restoring Medicaid coverage to those who lost it during 2005 Republican budget cuts.
The Missouri Department of Social Services has estimated that under the act, 255,000 additional Missourians will become eligible for Medicaid on Jan. 1, 2014, with the federal government paying 90 percent of the cost.
The Supreme Court is widely expected to issue its ruling on the act Thursday.
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