The Department of Health and Human Services recently established a deadline one of the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The health care reform law mandates states to create health insurance exchanges by 2014, and the HHS says they must show they have made ample progress toward this goal by 2012. Should states fail to adhere to these deadlines; the federal government will take charge of the exchange and establish one itself. The looming deadline has left many states scrambling to get their programs off the ground, and has forced governors to play the role of salesman.
Health care reform is popular, but not well liked. Several states stand in opposition of the new law, declaring them unconstitutional. Others are doing whatever they can to make the exchanges a hit with private companies. Such is the case in Louisiana, where Governor Bobby Jindal is looking to sell the idea of a state-run program.
Louisiana is currently the only other state, besides Utah, that operates its own health insurance plan. Transitioning to an exchange program could mean that more than 250,000 state workers will lose their insurance coverage. With an exchange, they will not be able to obtain the same coverage for even roughly what they paid before.
Opponents of Jindal’s efforts argue that the current system is not broken and that any unnecessary changes could cost millions of dollars to the state. However, if Jindal is unsuccessful in selling the plan to private companies, the state will have to make sweeping amendments to its $24 billion budget, which will likely see the shutdown of several agencies operating in the state.
Only time will tell whether Jindal will succeed.