Battle for authority
GOP governors want insurance exchange control
Republican governors are taking President Barack Obama up on his offer made during the State of the Union address last month to suggest improvements to the healthcare reform law. They’re asking for more leeway in implementation, and they say they won’t help if they don’t get their way.
In conjunction with pending lawsuits seeking to repeal the law outright, some governors want concessions on critical aspects of the law.
Twenty-one Republican governors sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Feb. 7 asking for six changes to the rules on state-level health insurance exchanges. States are required to have these exchanges—where individuals and small businesses can purchase health benefits—up and running by January 2014. If the states do not create and run the exchanges, HHS will do it for them.
The Republican governors said in the letter they want complete authority to decide which insurers are able to offer products on the exchanges. They also want to be able to move Medicaid beneficiaries into the exchanges without prior federal approval. In addition, the governors requested federal funds to help them determine which residents qualify for the exchanges and which consumers can get subsidies to help them afford coverage.
The law is “seriously flawed, favors dependency over personal responsibility, and will ultimately destroy the private insurance market,” the governors wrote in the letter. “Because of this, we do not wish to be the federal government’s agents in this policy in its present form.”