By Brad Stevens
There are special-interest groups currently running radio ads arguing a state health exchange will provide Nebraska more flexibility under the Obama health care mandate.While we appreciate this hopeful, glass-is-half-full optimism; it’s unfathomable that President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid prioritized this health care law over economic issues or job creation early in the President’s first term in order to empower the states.
The concept that Obama’s health care law offers states ‘autonomy’ is a farce.
First, and probably most important, the federal department of Health and Human Services has not finished its final rule making on exchanges. It would be grossly premature for Nebraska to create an exchange before HHS has finalized the rules. Moving forward with a state exchange at this point would simply be putting blind faith in the Obama Administration. We’re fairly confident that’s a position the majority of Nebraskans would oppose.
The the underlying point: Nebraska should reject volunteered cooperation, using state resources, state expertise and more importantly offering tacit approval to implement a law the majority of us would rather see repealed.
Consider for a moment why the vast majority of Nebraskans oppose the Cornhusker Kickback and Obama’s health care law: it was an unprecedented federal power grab.
There is a reason why advocates of a state exchange cannot point to a single example where such a system gives the states a significant degree of autonomy; it’s because such an example does not exist. Whether Nebraska chooses a state exchange or defaults to a federal exchange, the truth is both systems are governed by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., not Lincoln.
With a Nov. 16th deadline fast approaching, there are governors and legislators across the country who are hopeful they can save their states from the onerous federal provisions of Obama’s health care law by cooperating with the law and creating a ‘state-based’ exchange.
Unfortunately, optimism does not make good public policy.
There are major problems with state health exchanges under the President’s model. Under the Obama model HHS will be able to determine what constitutes an ‘essential’ health benefit. Prior to Obama’s health care law this was a state prerogative, but now is the role of the federal government. State exchanges will not change this.
The only options states have within the exchange system are to expand the program by offering a single-payer system in their state, or to restrict insurers from participating, thereby limiting competition in the market place.
Letting government, whether it be at the federal or state level, restrict competitors from the marketplace is crony capitalism.
This crony capitalism will cost Nebraska families more for health insurance and will do nothing to provide greater access to affordable, quality care. Nebraska should have nothing to do with it.
For more information on health care exchanges and AFP’s position on this important issue visit www.