As Michigan legislators edge closer to making themselves “fall guys” for Obamacare’s coming disappointments by creating a state-run “exchange,” yet another Republican governor has told the feds “no thanks.” Here is the key portion of a statement made yesterday by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer:
Today, I notified the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that the State of Arizona will not create a state-based Health Exchange. This decision comes following an extensive research and outreach process during which my team of health advisors conducted public hearings and met with HHS, patient advocates and representatives of Arizona hospitals, health providers, insurers, tribal groups and other members of the health care community.
This has been one of the more difficult decisions of my career in public service. My opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unwavering, as is my belief that it should be repealed and replaced with legislation that achieves its stated goals: to improve access to quality, affordable health care in this country. But I am also aware that the ACA remains the law of the land. Likewise, though I am a steady advocate of local control, I have come to the conclusion that the State of Arizona would wield little actual authority over its ‘state’ Exchange. The federal government would maintain oversight and control over virtually every aspect of our Exchange, limiting our ability to meet the unique needs of Arizonans and the Arizona insurance market.
A state exchange would be costly. Though the federal government has pledged to pay nearly all startup costs, states that form their own health exchanges are on the hook for operational expenses beginning in 2015. Those costs could total $27 million to $40 million annually for the State of Arizona, according to a recent study conducted by Mercer. Of course, these expenses would be passed along in the form of fees resulting in higher health premiums for Arizona families and small businesses. This would be an additional financial burden at a time when so many Arizonans are still struggling.
Lastly, there simply remains too much we don’t know about how a State-based Exchange would function and its ultimate cost to taxpayers. Without clear federal guidance and instruction, I cannot in good conscience commit the taxpayers of my state to this costly endeavor.”
Meanwhile, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is still urging our House to create a state exchange while also negotiating with the feds on a so-called “partnership” exchange, which would be much less bad than the state version, and also less risky than an un-mediated federal exchange.