Under the mandates of Obamacare, states are required to implement healthcare exchanges, which are online health insurance shopping centers for state residents and small businesses. This is where they will sign up for a healthcare plan, in accordance with the dictates of federal healthcare law. They can declare one of 3 options for these exchanges – a pure federal plan (HHS sets it up), a state-federal plan, or pure state plan. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Kathleen Sibelius, has set deadlines for each of the options. For example, the deadline for states who want to run their own exchanges (pure state plan) was Friday, November 16 (but extended by Sibelius to December 14). For those states opting for the state-federal plan, the deadline is February 15, 2013.
Our NC State Legislature, as I understand it, had considered the state option and in fact, it passed the House. But it failed to pass the Senate after an independent report looking into the feasibility of the option concluded that it could not be done. There would not be enough time to set it up and get it running here in NC. And that’s where things stood. It was anticipated that the healthcare bill would be repealed with a Romney-Ryan victory and we wouldn’t have to be concerned with its implementation. But that wasn’t what was written in the stars. The re-election of President Obama has put Obamacare back at center stage. And so, despite a deadline of February 15, Governor Beverly Perdue went ahead on Thursday, November 15 and sent a letter to Sec. Sibelius declaring that our state of North Carolina will opt for the hybrid state-federal healthcare exchange plan. She claims the new state legislature will have the ability to stick with that option or decide that they want a pure federal plan. What does newly-elected Governor Pat McCrory think? (see News & Observer article below)
The states are faced with a dilemma, including North Carolina: Whether to acquiesce and accept that this bad bill and unconstitutional Supreme Court decision is “the law of the land”, or, to keep protesting and challenging the government’s authority to force its will on the individual states even when the area it wishes to legislate is one reserved to the states? And so, that is being played out at the state level, through the opting out of the healthcare exchanges and the consideration of nullification bills and state constitutional amendments. On November 6th, the people of 3 states voted to add an amendment to their state constitution nullifying the federal healthcare Individual Mandate – Montana, Wyoming, and Alabama. Florida narrowly failed to pass its Obamacare nullification amendment – by only 1% of the vote. [See: http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/state-laws-and-actions-challenging-ppaca.aspx]
So far, 17 states have opted out of the state healthcare exchanges mandated by Obamacare – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas (of course!!), South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Continue Reading →