Health exchange deadline looms, with Pa. among procrastinators
December 9, 2012By Chris Satullo
You've probably worked with That Guy.
You know, the one who never reads the notices about a coming deadline, who doesn't attend the staff briefings, then when Deadline Day comes, stomps about complaining: "Why wasn't I told? This place is such a mess."
Which brings me to the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance exchanges and some Republican governors.
Friday is the deadline for states to choose among three options for setting up an exchange. The exchanges, a key element of the law, are meant to be organized marketplaces, where consumers can choose among various health insurance plans that have been vetted, share certain core features, but differ as to price and scope.
The states' options are to: 1) set up an exchange themselves 2) partner with the federal government, 3) or leave it to the feds. So far 18 states have decided to set up exchanges themselves. Four have opted for partnership. And 18 have thrown up their hands, leaving the work to the Obama administration.
Gov. Christie wants New Jersey to join that last group; last week he vetoed a bill to set up a state exchange, which means it's pretty much all over but the shouting. Theoretically, the Legislature could override the veto, but the votes are not there.
Pennsylvania is one of the other undecideds.
Irony alert: All but two of the states to say no went red in the last election.
Red states are the places where people were most hysterical about Obamacare as a dangerous federal takeover, the places typically most devoted to states rights.
And now they're punting to the feds? What's up with that?
Well, we're still in a place where partisan pouting is trumping smart policy.
The red-state governors sing from the same hymnal: They say they can't commit because of a lack of guidance from Washington.
Of course, these same folks screamed during the Obamacare debate that the feds shouldn't run roughshod over states' wishes and superior knowledge.
Since the law passed, the Department of Health and Human Services has bent over backwards, maybe too far, to leave up to the states many key choices about these insurance bazaars. The feds also have erred in not being clear enough on how the federal exchanges will work.
But let's get to the real point.
These Republicans, like teenagers hoping for a big snow on test day, procrastinated because they hoped either the men in black robes or Mitt Romney would spare them the trouble of dealing iwth the law.
But the Supreme Court surprised by upholding the law and Mitt got skunked.
So the governors wasted two years on futile resistance. And now they are making excuses like only adolescents who aren't ready for test day can do.