Just two days remain until New Jersey’s deadline for Governor Christie to make a decision on the health care exchanges outlined in the Affordable Care Act. The federal deadline was to be December 16. Our State Legislature, in the interests of our State’s autonomy, told DC they couldn’t tell us what to do, and then proceeded to move the deadline ten days earlier. I guess Trenton showed HHS who’s boss around here.
As in the case of the previous health insurance exchanges, Governor Christie has been very vague regarding what he intends to do. There is the option of setting up a state exchange, a joint federal/state exchange or letting the federal government operate the exchange themselves.
On the one hand, as quoted in northjersey.com last month, he has said “if ObamaCare is going to be the law of the land,” he’s “going to comply.” I wonder how many Governors in the North said that about the Fugitive Slave Act in the 1850s? And does this also mean you’re planning on backing off the push for sports betting? Those were two federal acts masquerading as the law of the land.
On the other hand, he has said “[the White House] won’t answer our questions, so I can’t evaluate how much this will cost my State.” How about our health care freedom, Governor? Is that costly enough to say no to the exchanges?
PolitickerNJ points out a similar case of dueling quotes. The Governor was inclined to set up a State based exchange if it appeared cost effective, but was likely to select a pure federal option if HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius did not answer questions submitted by the Republican Governors’ association. It would be no surprise if they pulled a Pelosi and said you have to set up the exchanges to find out what’s in them.
If these quotes from an inconsistent Governor on Tenth Amendment issues are confusing to you, you’re not alone, but perhaps there is another way. Follow the money. Thankfully, in a rare show of transparency, the federal government has made that very easy to do. HealthCare.gov has a convenient feature to follow each State’s actions regarding the health insurance exchanges, and which States have received how much money. For example, Governor Haslam of Tennessee has received $1 million in planning grants and $8,110,165 in exchange establishment grants. Governor Rick Scott of Florida has received $1 million in planning grants. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has really raked it in with $1 million in planning grants and a whopping $33,832,212 in exchange establishment grants! And Republicans want us to believe they support limited government?
So how is New Jersey doing? Governor Christie has taken in $1,223,186 in planning grants and another $7,674,130 in exchange establishment grants. Almost $9 million to establish a plan with no questions answered? Governor, as US attorney, you put away 130 of these types of people. An honest look at the current makeup of DC should tell you that, while impressive for one man, it’s barely a dent. Are these the people you trust to provide a straightforward, honest answer?
Instead of looking to the federal government for answers about the health insurance exchanges, look to the Constitution. Can you find the words “health care” anywhere? What about “insurance mandates?” Didn’t think so. The only thing to do with these exchanges is scrap them for good.