by Christina Sandefur, Goldwater Institute
As last week’s so-called “deadline” for states to decide whether or not to establish a “health insurance exchange” came and went, Arizonans were given good news: Governor Jan Brewer will not stick Arizona taxpayers with the bill for implementing the new federal health insurance mandates – for now. The Governor has decided to delay her decision as she continues to study Arizona’s options.
Early on, some state policymakers were misled into thinking that setting up a state exchange would give them flexibility from federal control. There’s also been discussion of urgent “deadlines” states must meet to “comply” with the federal law.
Federal bureaucrats, ill equipped to execute a comprehensive takeover of the nation’s health insurance industry, have been hoping governors and legislatures would buy these stories.
What the feds don’t want states to know is that federal law does not require states to establish exchanges. In fact, there’s no rush to make a decision – states may opt in at any time. If states choose not to set up an exchange, the federal government will have to create and fund one on its own.
Fortunately, governors across the country are finally learning the truth about insurance exchanges.
They’re learning that state exchanges are state-funded, but not state-run. That exchanges leave no room for state flexibility but come with price tags of over $60 million per year. And in states with Health Care Freedom Acts, state exchanges are illegal.
That’s why last week, while the feds intensified their efforts to get states on board, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma joined the growing assembly of states—now at 20—that have chosen not to establish state-funded exchanges. In a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services announcing his decision, Wisconsin’s Governor Walker wrote, “No matter which option is chosen, Wisconsin taxpayers will not have meaningful control over the health care policies and services sold to Wisconsin residents.”
Arizona should follow the leads of these states and decline to establish a state-funded exchange. At the very least, with so much uncertainty surrounding insurance exchanges, Arizona should not rush to be Washington’s guinea pig.
Goldwater Institute: Key Points on Health Insurance Exchanges