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Hundreds Rally In Opposition To Federal Health Care Overhaul

By Rachel Lippmann, Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – About 400 people gathered inside the Missouri Capitol last Wednesday to oppose federal health care legislation.

About three dozen Republican lawmakers joined the rally in support of a constitutional amendment allowing Missouri residents to opt out of the overhaul.

St. Louis County Republican Jane Cunningham is sponsoring the measure, which would prohibit individuals from being penalized if they don't buy health insurance.

"It will also protect your right to use your own money to buy your own medical services," said Cunningham. "It's hard in America to get your hands around and to comprehend that we actually have to protect that right for you."

Governor Jay Nixon says with the state facing extensive budget cuts this year and next, rejecting any federal money is a bad idea.

Republican lawmakers in Missouri have also sent letters to Governor Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster, both Democrats, regarding the federal health care legislation in Washington.

The letter to Nixon asks him to "take action" against federal mandates the GOP says will result in financial disaster.

The letter to Koster urges him to oppose the so-called "Cornhusker Compromise," in which the GOP says Nebraska would be exempted from increased Medicaid costs as a result of their Democratic Senator, Ben Nelson, agreeing to support the bill.

Missouri House Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley (R, Perryville) calls it unethical at best, and at worst, illegal.

"For them to get the votes they needed to pass it out of the (U.S.) Senate, they had to get (Louisiana Senator) Mary Landrieu $300 million, they had to build hospitals in Connecticut, they had to cut a deal where the taxpayers of Missouri are going to be having to pay Nebraska's share for generations, and forever!" Tilley said.

The Associated Press, however, is now reporting that Senator Nelson is calling for all states to get the same exemptions promised to Nebraska, and that he did not ask for special treatment for his state.

A spokesman for Governor Nixon could not confirm receipt of any letter and declined comment.


Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
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