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More GOP governors decline to create health insurance exchanges

Ohio, Wisconsin and Maine are the latest to say they won't implement that part of President Obama's healthcare law, instead leaving the job to the federal government.

November 16, 2012|By Noam N. Levey, Washington Bureau
  • Ohio Gov. John Kasich, shown in August, announced Friday that he would not set up a state-run health insurance exchange under President Obama's healthcare law.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, shown in August, announced Friday that he would not… (Brian Cassella / Chicago…)

WASHINGTON — More Republican governors announced Friday they would not implement a key part of the new healthcare law, despite a new attempt by the Obama administration to give states more time to develop plans to put the Affordable Care Act in place.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Maine Gov. Paul LePage joined more than a dozen GOP governors who have notified the administration they will not set up state insurance exchanges next year, instead leaving the job to the federal government.

"Operating a state exchange would not provide the flexibility to meet our state's unique needs or to protect our state's taxpayers," Walker said in a statement.

Kasich's decision drew quick praise from House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). "I'm proud of my governor … for taking a stand and resisting the federal takeover of healthcare in Ohio," said Boehner, who just last week seemed ready to soften the GOP campaign against the law, pronouncing, "Obamacare is the law of the land."

Exchanges are designed to allow Americans who don't get coverage through work to go online to shop for health insurance, like shopping for plane tickets. The insurance will have to meet new minimum standards

States were supposed to open exchanges next fall so people could get insurance starting in January 2014. Ultimately, about 25 million Americans are expected to get insurance on an exchange, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Most people probably won't notice a significant difference if their exchange is operated by state or federal officials. But the decision over state exchanges has become a new flash point in the partisan battle over the health law.

States that plan to run their own exchanges are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. All but four have Democratic governors. Several other states, including Illinois, are planning to operate theirs in partnership with the federal government.

Those deferring completely to the federal government are Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. All but one have GOP governors.

Republican governors, many of whom have refused to implement the law since it was signed in 2010, asked this week for more time to decide whether they should run state exchanges or allow the federal government to do it, citing a lack of information from the federal government. In response to the complaints, the Obama administration Thursday evening extended by a month a Friday deadline for states to decide.

States that remain undecided are Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.

noam.levey@latimes.com

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