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May 28, 2013 7:58 am

EDITORIAL: Implementation of Obamacare at hand; should the state play?

Written by Dave Bonner

It’s no secret that the Wyoming Legislature has had little appetite for embracing any aspect of the new federal health care law.

Two legislative sessions have come and gone since the Affordable Care Act became federal law, and Wyoming posture can pretty much be summed up as keeping the ACA at a distance. So far, lawmakers have said no thanks to any form of state-federal partnering on the health insurance exchanges and nothing doing with Medicaid expansion. The underlying rationale that Wyoming doesn’t want to see a federal takeover of the health care industry is both understandable and supportable.

But the reality is that the ACA is the law, and that isn’t going to change as long as the Obama White House is in charge. Even if the Republicans should manage a takeover of the U.S. Senate and maintain control of the U.S. House in the mid-term elections, the president would veto any attempt at repeal. That means the ACA is in place into the year 2017, and perhaps beyond.

The further reality is that, through inaction, Wyoming is ceding to the federal government the very thing that it doesn’t want to see happen: the feds fully running the healthcare show. A case in point is the insurance exchange marketplace where all mandated insurance products will be subject to regulatory approval.

Because the legislative session ended this year without any action on an insurance exchange, Wyoming is one of 25 states that will be using a Federally Facilitated Exchange (FFE). When the exchanges go into business Jan. 1, 2014 — before the Legislature is even in session again — the feds will be calling all the shots.

Wyoming insurance companies advocated that the state is best served if it has some degree of regulatory control over this new marketplace, but the Legislature wasn’t persuaded. As a result, Wyoming will not at the outset have regulatory oversight of what is offered as Qualified Health Plans under the new law.

It’s important to note the Legislature hasn’t said “never” to a role in the exchanges. Lawmakers have heretofore said “not now.”

Is “now” any closer? The answer may be tipped when the Legislature’s joint interim health committee meets in Casper June 4-5, and the question of insurance exchanges is on the agenda.

Will the political view continue to hold sway, or will the pragmatic appeal for some measure of state control on the regulatory side over something that isn’t going away gain traction? We say the state should get in the game to advocate for state interests.

Why? When you stop to realize that implementation of the exchanges and most of the vast ACA amounts to putting into effect pages and pages of regulations drafted by unelected bureaucrats, that’s reason enough for states to get in the game and give voice to state interests.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link June 07, 2013 10:41 am posted by John Clark

    Before you write an editorial you should educate your self about the issue. First the program is named Affordable Care Act, not Obamacare!!!

    Calling it Obamacare implies the act was hatched by the president. If you remember what you learned in civics class only congress can introduce and pass laws, all the president can do is either sign the law or veto it. ACA was passed by both houses of congress then signed into law by the president.

    ACA is coming to Wyoming whether they support it or not.

    We form governments for health,safety and welfare of the people.(United we stand, divided we fall). I feel the government of the people of Wyoming by not supporting the ACA is not doing its job which is to protect the people from sickness.

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