Each state can decide for itself whether or not to create its own exchange. And nearly 20 states — after weighing the expected costs and bureaucratic nightmares involved in the exchanges — have already told the Obama administration, in so many words, to take their exchanges and dump them in a bedpan.
Georgia is the latest state to do so.
“We have no interest in spending our tax dollars on an exchange that is state-based in name only,” declared Gov. Nathan Deal in a press release Nov. 16. “I would support a free market-based approach that could serve as a useful tool for Georgia’s small businesses, but federal guidelines forbid that. Instead, restrictions on what the exchanges can and can’t offer render meaningless the suggestion that Georgia could tailor an exchange that best fits the unique needs of its population.”
Deal went on to cite the unknown costs of such exchanges, their lack of flexibility and the loss of state control. Add to that the fact that they would be an administrative nightmare full of incredibly complex rules and mandates, probably requiring the creation of additional costly state bureaucracy.
You’ll recall that the much ballyhooed (by liberals) decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer left it up to the states to decide whether to set up such exchanges.
There are many incentives for states to avoid such exchanges. For starters, they would compete with private insurance and very probably would drive many private insurers out of business. (That’s a strange way to boost the economy, which Obama claims as one of his goals.) Indeed, one of the unstated goals of Obamacare is exactly that: to drive people out of private employer-provided insurance plans and onto the government’s plan. And if the government plan is worse and more expensive than the plan you have? Too bad. Bigger government is always better government. Or so liberals say.
Yes, the federal government can implement exchanges for states like Georgia that refuse to do so — but the divided Congress has not appropriated any funds for them, and is highly unlikely to do so at this point, considering how unpopular Obamacare is.
The original deadline for governors to decide whether to create such exchanges was Nov. 16. But the response has been such a belly-flop that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has now extended the deadline to Dec. 14. In other words, an extra month of arm-twisting by Team Obama.
Gov. Deal should stick to his original decision, thereby helping shift the burden and costs of the exchanges back on the administration that passed the law.