21 Republican governors have sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking for changes to the rules for new state-run health care exchanges outlined in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The letter asks Secretary Sebelius to make six changes to the rules or risk the federal government taking full responsibility for running a national exchange.
In the letter, the governors said “We wish states had been given more opportunity to provide input when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was being drafted. We believe in its current form the law will force our health care system down a path sure to lead to higher costs and the disruption or discontinuation of millions of Americans’ insurance plans.”
The governors have asked for changes including giving states authority to choose benefits that meet the needs of their citizens and waiving provisions that discriminate against consumer-driven health plans, such as health savings accounts.
Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniels wrote an op-ed in addition to signing on to the letter which appeared in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal and calls the provisions of the law, “a de facto government takeover of health care.” The Governor further claims that, “in Indiana, our independent actuaries have pegged the price to state taxpayers at $2.6 billion to $3 billion over the next 10 years.”
Last week, CivSource reported on objections from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, which were in the same vein and spurred the creation of the Office of Free Market Health Care in that state. The Rhode Island House of Representatives is currently looking at a measure that would exempt residents from the individual mandate provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In Tennessee, Republicans are trying a measure that would utilize a provision of the U.S. constitution to create a health care compact with other states. In Wyoming, the statehouse authorized a $500,000 litigation fund that will be used to pay for Wyoming’s place in the multi-state lawsuit currently being brought against the bill as well as bringing in outside experts to find additional challenges. Together these actions point to a broader trend of emboldened Republican Governors and Republican state congresspeople that seem to be utilizing their increased power to move health care on to the front burner, while their Congressional counterparts face difficulties even finding the votes at the federal level.