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AFP-VA Opposes Health Care Exchange Legislation

January 25, 2012

For Immediate Release: Ajackson@afphq.org

AFP-VA Opposes Health Care Exchange Legislation

Obama’s “exchanges” will diminish choice, transparency and innovation

Richmond, VA – Americans for Prosperity – Virginia is calling the kettle black and opposing legislation to implement a so-called “health care exchange.” The Virginia House of Delegates last week introduced bills to create a Virginia Health Care Exchange, one of the mandates under the new federal healthcare law. AFP-Virginia encourages the General Assembly to oppose any action to establish a Health Care Exchange in Virginia until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the health care challenge this summer.

“Whereas real “exchanges” harness the power of free market to increase competition, choice, transparency and reduce costs, these plans will have the exact opposite effect.” Explains AFP-VA State Director Audrey Jackson. “These exchanges are a simple means for the federal government to expand bureaucratic control.”

The new healthcare law directs the states to create a health care exchange by January 1, 2014. The federal government promises the state’s flexibility in designing the exchanges, but a simple review of Health and Human Resources (HHS) requirements show that flexibility is available in name only.

AFP-Virginia State Director Audrey Jackson states, “With each new federal regulation states’ “flexibility” is undermined and the usefulness of exchanges are diminished.”

Before states are allowed to implement an exchange they must submit their plan for HHS approval. If a state later wants to change or reform their plan, it would once again require HHS approval.

“Exchange plans are the federal government micromanaging the states,” said Jackson.

Even worse, the exchange will increase taxes on Virginia’s small businesses. The law fines businesses $3,000 per eligible employee if it does not offer health insurance.

Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge County and chairman of the General Assembly Joint Commission on Health Care a legislative sub-committee who recently reviewed the need for legislation to create an Exchange said the General Assembly should not pass legislation to set up an insurance exchange during the upcoming session, citing uncertainty about the fate of the federal health care law and the sentiments of voters. He further shared that , “Given that the federal law doesn’t require the exchanges to be set up until 2013 and in light of the federal lawsuit, it seems premature.”

“Virginians would be concerned about an effort to implement any provision of Obamacare, said Cline.

HHS could have given Virginia a real Exchange that increases transparency, consumer choice and competition. Instead, Jackson says, “HHS has opted for centralized control, hundreds of pages of restrictions, and a “government-knows-best” approach that will condemn the health insurances industry to mediocrity – or worse – in the coming decades.”

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