Kaeding: States should reject ObamaCare Exchanges
One of the most important issues facing states this legislative session is whether to create a health care exchange to implement the president’s health care law. States are being tempted by words like “flexibility” and very large grants from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to gain their compliance, but states that value health care freedom should resist and refuse to implement Obama’s health care exchanges.
Health care exchanges organized voluntarily by market participants are something that conservatives could support. Exchanges should function as a free-market mechanism allowing consumers to make informed health care purchasing decisions in a simple, innovative and transparent manner. Yet, the exchanges as created by Obamacare and HHS fail to meet this most basic standard.
These exchanges pile thousands of pages of rules, regulations and mandates on each state’s insurance markets, harming competition and consumers. Forcing insurers to provide “essential health benefits” under “qualified health plans” with little to no cost-sharing does nothing but raise premiums, a fact even acknowledged by Obamacare’s chief architect, economist Jonathan Gruber. According to a study of the Wisconsin insurance market authored by Gruber, Obamacare will push up individual premiums by an average of 30% in the Badger State.
Conservative proponents of state exchange creation, like David Merritt here at The Daily Caller, argue that states will have “flexibility” if they create exchanges themselves. A review of the facts show this statement doesn’t pass the laugh test.
Just this week, HHS released its final rule governing exchange creation. The 644-page rule included the word “must” over 1,000 times and “require” more than 320 times. The rule gets so specific as to dictate what items a state must include on its exchange website and how its call center must operate. Under the regulation, any state hoping to create an exchange must first apply to HHS using its “exchange blueprint” template. Secretary Sebelius has sole authority to approve or deny the application. Additionally, any “significant change” must also be approved by the secretary.
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