Gov. Bob McDonnell wants the Obama administration to give states more time to decide whether to create their own health insurance exchanges to comply with the federal health care overhaul.
McDonnell, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, asked President Barack Obama in a letter to extend the Friday deadline for states to declare whether to run their own exchanges, create a partnership exchange or default to a federally run exchange. The exchange would function as a database where individuals and small businesses could shop for insurance coverage.
McDonnell and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who will become RGA chairman in 2013, wrote the letter on behalf of GOP governors. In it, they argued that the deadlines and many provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “are simply unworkable.”
“With the pending deadline of November 16 for governors to make a decision on state based health insurance exchanges, we ask you to push back the date until your team has answered the numerous previous questions for governors and other groups, and promulgated the final regulations, so that all stakeholders have had the opportunity to comment, and those comments have been incorporated into a final rule,” the governors wrote.
McDonnell and Jindal asked Obama to meet with governors to discuss states’ obligations under the health care law.
The Department of Health and Human Services last week extended the deadline for states to submit plans for state-based health insurance exchanges until Dec. 14. But states still have to notify HHS by Friday whether they plan to set up their own exchanges.
McDonnell said in a post-election news conference last week that state officials still lack sufficient information about a federal insurance exchange to determine which option is better for Virginia. Without more guidance from the administration, McDonnell said, Virginia initially will default to a federal exchange and leave open the possibility of setting up its own system.
“The lack of a complete and open rulemaking process and the deficit of information being shared with states have created a virtual roadblock for governors, who must decipher what type of exchange is appropriate for their state,” McDonnell said in a RGA news release. “We are asking for the president to intervene with HHS, push the deadline and engage directly with governors of both parties in a serious dialogue about healthcare exchanges and overall healthcare reform in our states.”
In the letter, the GOP governors also complained the PPACA does not include “much-needed Medicaid or Medicare reform designed to control costs.” McDonnell has said that he opposes a provision to expand eligibility for Medicaid — even though the federal government would pay most of the cost — unless the expansion comes with cost-cutting reforms.
“As has been stated many times, before making any final policy decisions, governors must carefully consider the short and long-term implications of an expanded entitlement program and the consequences of significantly increasing the size of government to manage these programs,” the governors’ letter states.
– Michael Sluss