Feb 8, 2011

GOP Governors Ask Sebelius To Modify Rules On Health Exchanges.

Posted by: Neal Stehly

The AP (2/8) reports, "Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and 20 other Republican governors are asking US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to make changes in parts of the federal healthcare overhaul that they feel put states at a disadvantage."

        Fox News' Special Report (2/7, Baier) reported, "Already repealed in the House and on its way to the Supreme Court, the President's healthcare law is facing a new challenge" as 21 Republican governors are "pressing the Obama administration to make big changes" to it.

        Politico (2/8, Kliff) reports, "Republican governors want HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to make specific changes to the new health exchanges, and have threatened to pull back on running their own exchanges if their demands are not met." They wrote to Sebelius saying, "While we hope for your endorsement, if you do not agree, we will move forward with our own efforts regardless and HHS should begin making plans to run exchanges under its own auspices." In response to the letter, HHS spokeswoman Jessica Santillo said that since the healthcare law "was enacted, HHS has made resources available to the states to both plan and establish exchanges and made clear we will consider different models that fit states' needs. We look forward to continuing to build a constructive partnership with governors and state leaders."

        The Hill (2/8, Millman) reports in its "Healthwatch" blog that the "21 Republican governors recommended six major improvements for state-run exchanges that would give the states more decision power," such as "the choice of which insurers can offer products; waive mandates and allow states to choose benefit rules; waive provisions discriminating against consumer-driven health plans, such as health savings accounts; allow the flexibility to move non-disabled Medicaid beneficiaries into exchanges; deliver a plan for verifying incomes and subsidy amounts for exchange participants; and commission a 'new and objective' assessment of how many people will enroll in exchanges and Medicaid as a result of the reform."

        CQ HealthBeat (2/8, Adams, subscription required) reports, "The governors also warn federal officials that failure to give states more authority over the exchanges will mean 'HHS should begin making plans to run exchanges under its own auspices.' The law gives governors a choice of operating the exchanges themselves or allowing federal officials to run them."

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