RICHMOND, Va. (Jan. 16, 2017) – A bill introduced in the Virginia House would end the state’s cooperation in the management of the federal insurance exchange in Virginia. This would take an important first step toward withdrawing the state from implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Del. Kathy J. Byron (R-Forest) introduced House Bill 2103 (HB2103) on Jan. 10. The legislation would end a state management rose in running the Obamacare health insurance exchange in Virginia.
Virginia did not establish a state exchange under the Affordable Care Act, but it did enter into a management partnership with the federal government. As it stands, Virginians register for ACA health coverage through the federal exchange, but the state has a marketplace plan management exchange. That means the state takes on the responsibility for overseeing the plans sold on the exchange.
Passage of HB2103 would repeal provisions in state law that direct the State Corporation Commission and Virginia Department of Health to perform plan management functions. These functions include rate review, as required for participation in the federal health benefit exchange established pursuant to the ACA. These responsibilities would then revert to the federal government.
At this point it remains unclear whether Congress will actually send President-elect Trump a bill to repeal Obamacare. If so, will it be a complete or just a partial repeal? Regardless, state actions can help completely bring down the Affordable Care Act.
Obamacare was predicated on state cooperation. By ending state actions that support the ACA and refusing to enforce any of its mandates, a state can make it nearly impossible to run Obamacare within its borders. The federal government never intended to run the healthcare system alone, and ultimately, it can’t do it without state help. We’ve already seen the difficulties created for the Act by the number of states that simply refused to set up exchanges for the federal government.
Refusing to expand Medicaid or to set up an exchange are two essential steps states should take to facilitate an end to Obamacare. HB2103 takes the very first step in Virginia. Passage would set the stage for further action. Judge Andrew Napolitano noted that if a number of states were to refuse to participate with the ACA in a wholesale fashion, that multi-state action would “gut Obamacare.”
Napolitano said that if enough states follow suit, “it will gut ObamaCare because the federal government does not have the resources or the wherewithal […] to go into each of the individual states.”
HB2103 was referred to the House Referred to Committee on Commerce and Labor, It will need to pass by a majority vote before moving on in the legislative process.