The Norman Transcript

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November 17, 2012

Obama’s health care law advances in the states

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

The exchanges will also help steer low-income, uninsured people into expanded Medicaid programs in many states.

Another seven states have indicated they want to partner with Washington to build their exchanges. Ohio joined this group Friday and West Virginia officials said they’re heading in the same direction.

Fifteen mostly Republican-led states say they’ll defer to the federal government to build and run their markets. Georgia and Wisconsin formally joined that group Friday. However, New Hampshire, where Democrats won control of the state House in the election, is taking a second look at its decision to default to the feds.

Finally, another 12 undecided states now have until Dec. 14 to determine what role, if any, they’ll play.

Obama’s election victory guaranteed the survival of his health care law, which is eventually expected to provide coverage to more than 30 million people through the exchanges and expanded Medicaid programs. It was the final hurdle, after the Supreme Court upheld a legal challenge from 26 states. In the aftermath of the election, some Republican state leaders say it’s time to accept the law.

“I don’t like it; I would not vote for it; I think it needs to be repealed. But it is the law,” said Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, after announcing that his state wants to set up its own exchange. “If you default to the federal government, you forever give the keys to the state’s health insurance market to the federal government.”

Traditionally, states have regulated the private health insurance market.

But other Republican-led states say they don’t have enough information to make a decision at this point and are clamoring for the Obama administration to release major regulations bottled up for months.

“States are struggling with many unanswered questions and are not able to make comprehensive far-reaching decisions prudently,” Govs. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana wrote Obama earlier this week.

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