Potential problems begin to emerge for the Affordable Care Act
There is no shortage of controversy when it comes to the Affordable Care Act in the U.S. The federal law was passed in 2010 and has been the crux of political conflict ever since then, with many politicians claiming that it oversteps the federal government’s boundaries in terms of authority. Earlier this year, the law made its way to the Supreme Court, where Justices debated the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and its various provisions. Though the Justices showed some concern, the Affordable Care Act was ultimately upheld.
States required to build health insurance exchanges
According to the Affordable Care Act, all U.S. citizens will be required to purchase and maintain some level of health insurance coverage beginning in 2014. The insurance mandate is one of the most controversial aspects of the Affordable Care Act, but the law does take steps to mitigate the financial impact that is associated with the provision. The law stipulates that all states must host a health insurance exchange program. These programs are designed to be marketplaces where consumers can find affordable health insurance coverage that offers comprehensive benefits.
State-federal partnership becoming a more attractive option
Per the federal law, states must have a fully operational health insurance exchange in place by 2014 or risk federal intervention. States are tasked with building an exchange program themselves, with financial aid provided by the federal government, but there are other options. States have the ability to opt out of building an exchange, which will place the responsibility of such a program with the Department of Health and Human Services. Alternatively, states may choose to partner with the federal government in developing an exchange.
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State-federal partnership may not be the best option
A state-federal partnership is becoming a popular option for states that are on the fence about the Affordable Care Act because it lowers the burden a state must carry in regards to building an exchange system. Analysts from the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation suggest that such a partnership may actually be bad for many states as it reduces their flexibility in building an exchange. The firm notes that the federal government would have the power to dictate how the exchange will take form. As such, the government will likely establish a very general structure for an exchange, one that does not necessarily account for the needs of consumers in specific markets.
Such is the case in Michigan, where a federal-state health insurance exchange will take form by October 20013. Consumer advocates in the state are expressing concern that the exchange program will not actually accommodate the needs of Michigan residents.