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Just two days before the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law, Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration in Santa Fe announced the creation of a task force charged with developing a state health insurance exchange.
One of the major features of that law, known as the Affordable Care Act, is that each state must institute health insurance exchanges by 2014 for the purpose of insuring a competitive insurance marketplace in the state, offering choices in health plans and assisting consumers in understanding the insurance options available to them.
The goal is to provide small businesses and private individuals greater leverage and information in selecting affordable health insurance policies appropriate to their needs and employees.
Many states embraced the idea of insurance exchanges, both to increase their number of insured residents and as a way to control spiraling health care costs.
A number of other states, notably those with hard-line Republican governors bent on undoing the president’s health care measure, have refused even to consider health insurance exchange.
It’s a shortsighted posture for Republican politicos who normally rail against any sort of federal intervention in state affairs. The fact is, should any state fail to institute its own insurance exchanges by 2014, the federal government is obligated by law do it for them.
It is shortsighted, as well, because in states where exchanges are already being used, they have helped many people and small businesses obtain affordable insurance which heretofore had been unavailable to them.
A case in point is Massachusetts, where polls consistently show that state’s exchange (called The Connector) to be one of the most popular health insurance reforms pushed through by Mitt Romney during his term as governor. Indeed, the president has credited Romney’s reforms as the model for of his own health law.
Nonetheless, a slew of Republican governors have pledged not to allow exchanges in their states, among them Chris Christie of New Jersey, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rick Scott of Florida, and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.
So you have to wonder, given the partisan vitriol to which top GOP politicians seem prone since the Supreme Court gave thumbs up to the president’s health reform law, whether Gov. Martinez would have permitted her Health Department to buck her party’s anti-Obamacare tide had it chosen to announce its insurance exchange task force two days after that decision rather than two days before.
In any case, a few Republican governors (darn few) are proceeding to create exchanges in their states, including Alabama where Gov. Robert Bentley issued an executive order moving forward with his state’s exchange quite some time ago.
Poor states like Bentley’s Alabama, Jindal’s Louisiana and Susana Martinez’s New Mexico only stand to gain from health insurance exchanges, since the power of numbers has historically impressed the insurance industry.
Giant corporations and large institutions will be the first to admit that the sheer size of their insurance pools routinely help to temper escalating premium costs for their employees enrolled in “group” policies.
There’s no reason whatsoever for states not to use their collective clout to that end.
But this is a presidential election year and reason has long since flown the coop out there on the campaign trail where nonsense is proffered as truth and balderdash passes for brilliance.
It has created some seriously ill-informed voters.
Last week, the often sassy weekly newsmagazine, The Week, reported on a YouGov.com poll which found that “63 percent of Republicans still say they believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded in 2003.”
And “among Republicans who say Iraq had WMDs, 64 percent believe President Obama was born in another country.”