States refuse to build their own health insurance exchange programs
The 29 states that combated the Affordable Care Act for the past two years are now resisting the establishment of health insurance exchanges. These exchanges are required by the federal health care law to be built in each state. Health insurance exchanges are designed to provide consumers with affordable access to coverage and allow U.S. citizens to more easily comply with the law’s health insurance mandate. The states opposing the establishment of health insurance exchanges argue that the health care law’s fate is still uncertain and hinges on the outcome of this year’s presidential election.
Opponents of the law argue that its fate is still uncertain
Currently, only 14 states have working health insurance exchange programs in place that comply with federal standards. Other states are currently working on the establishment of their own exchanges, hoping to have plans in place before confronted by federal deadlines. Twenty-nine states are outright refusing to work on building health insurance exchanges despite the potential benefits they may bring to consumers. These states run the risk of federal intervention should they miss the deadlines imposed by the health care law.
Oklahoma emerging as a new opponent to the building of a health insurance exchange
Oklahoma is one of the states opposing the establishment of a health insurance exchange. The state had initially supported the building of an exchange, but seems to have succumbed to political pressure from the Republican Party and the tea party. Governor Mary Fallin had accepted a $53 million federal grant that would have been used to construct a health insurance exchange, but has recently returned the money to the federal government. The Oklahoma Legislature has also been working on plans for a health insurance exchange for the past two years, but nothing concrete has come from these plans as of yet.
Federal government may intervene and build an exchange itself
If the Affordable Care Act manages to survive the continuing political battle that is surrounding it, all states will be required to host a health insurance exchange. If Oklahoma and its 28 counterparts continue to refuse to comply with the federal law, the government will build and exchange in these states itself and will operate them through the Department of Health and Human Services.