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GOP Govs Ask HHS for Changes to Healthcare Exchanges

While continuing to fight for a total overhaul of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), 21 Republican governors sent a letter today to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking her to make six critical adjustments to the rules concerning state-run healthcare exchanges or risk having the federal government assume full responsibility.

A section of the states: “We wish states had been given more opportunity to provide input when the PPACA 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.”

Among the requested changes are granting states authority to choose benefits that meet the needs of their citizens, waiving provisions that discriminate against consumer-driven health plans, such as health savings accounts, and commissioning an independent assessment of how many people will be “offloaded” into the exchanges by employers.

The suggestions were echoed in an op-ed written by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and published in today’s Wall Street Journal. In his conclusion, Daniels wrote:

“If there’s to be a train wreck, we governors would rather be spectators than conductors. But if the federal government is willing to reroute the train to a different, more productive track, we are here to help.”

Dear Secretary Sebelius;

Many of us believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) should be repealed by Congress if the courts do not strike it down first. But, with no assurance of either outcome, we face the decision of whether to participate in the bill by operating state exchanges, or to let the federal government take on that task, if the bill remains in effect in 2014.

In addition to its constitutional infringements, we believe the system proposed by the PPACA is seriously flawed, favors dependency over personal responsibility, and will ultimately destroy the private insurance market. Because of this, we do not wish to be the federal government’s agents in this policy in its present form.

We wish states had been given more opportunity to provide input when the PPACA 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. Though we still have grave concerns with other provisions of the PPACA, we suggest the following improvements:

  • Provide states with complete flexibility on operating the exchange, most importantly the freedom to decide which licensed insurers are permitted to offer their products
  • Waive the bill’s costly mandates and grant states the authority to choose benefit rules that meet the specific needs of their citizens.
  • Waive the provisions that discriminate against consumer-driven health plans, such as health savings accounts (HSA’s)
  • Provide blanket discretion to individual states if they chose to move non-disabled Medicaid beneficiaries into the exchanges for their insurance coverage without the need of further HHS approval.
  • Deliver a comprehensive plan for verifying incomes and subsidy amounts for exchange participants that is not an unfunded mandate but rather fully funded by the federal government and is certified as workable by an independent auditor.
  • Commission a new and objective assessment of how many people will end up in the exchanges and on Medicaid in every state as a result of the legislation (including those “offloaded” by employers), and at what potential cost to state governments. The study must be conducted by a neutral third-party research organization agreed to by the states represented in this letter.

We hope the Administration will accommodate our states’ individual circumstances and needs, as we believe the PPACA in its current form threatens to destroy our budgets and perpetuate and magnify the most costly aspects of our health care system. While we hope for your endorsement, if you do not agree, we will move forward with our own efforts regardless and HHS should begin making plans to run exchanges under its own auspices.

Sincerely,

Governor Robert J. Bentley

Governor Nathan Deal

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter

Governor Mitch Daniels

Governor Terry E. Branstad

Governor Sam Brownback

Governor Bobby Jindal

Governor Paul R. LePage

Governor Haley Barbour

Governor David Heineman

Governor Brian Sandoval

Governor Susana Martinez

Governor John R. Kasich

Governor Mary Fallin

Governor Tom Corbett

Governor Nikki Haley

Governor Dennis Daugaard

Governor Bill Haslam

Governor Rick Perry

Governor Gary R. Herbert

Governor Scott Walker


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