Deadline Passes, 26 States Opt Out
The Washington Times
Twenty-six states have chosen to let the federal government run the online insurance markets required next year by President Obama's healthcare law instead of taking on the job themselves or partnering with the feds.
The Department of Health and Human Services had encouraged states to run their own markets, or "exchanges," that help the uninsured find coverage, but only 17 states and the District of Columbia took on the task and seven states decided to split the duty with the Obama administration, according to a breakdown by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
States that wanted to run a partnership exchange with the federal government had to let HHS know by late Friday, concluding months deliberation in each of the 50 states.
The exchanges, which are designed to let those without employer-based insurance compare and buy plans with the help of tax credits, are a crucial part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that was passed in 2010 and largely upheld by the Supreme Court last June.
State leaders who deferred to the federal government cited numerous reasons for their choices -- they wanted to distance themselves from Mr. Obama's first-term achievement, could not obtain enough information to make an informed decision or ran out of time after Mitt Romney lost the presidential election, effectively ending Republicans' hopes to repeal "Obamacare."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Friday to affirm his previously stated preference for a federally run exchange.
From the start, HHS encouraged states to run the exchanges and tailor them to their residents' needs. But the majority said no.
"It's not what the drafters of the bill had hoped would happen," Timothy Jost, a health law expert at Washington and Lee University School of Law, said of the outcome on Friday.
But, he added, the tilt toward federally run exchanges could help officials in Washington stay on the same page during the early stages of implementation, since the market places rely on computer networks that will share data among several federal agencies.
"It's not a particularly bad thing at this point to be doing it this way," Mr. Jost said in a phone interview.
Federal health officials declined to comment on the states' decisions before midnight Friday, making it unlikely they will weigh in on the spectrum of exchanges until early this week.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 02/16/2013
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