Jennifer Haberkorn, formerly of the Washington Times but now with Politico, is reporting that states will face the “first real test of how cooperative the states will be in implementing the massive new health care reform law comes on Friday,” when they have to decide if they’re willing to cooperate with the interim high-risk pool provision of the law — which encourages states to establish coverage pools for individuals who cannot find affordable coverage in the individual health insurance market. If states chose not to implement the high risk pool program, the federal government will enroll eligible state residents into a national pool.
Georgia’s insurance commissioner John Oxendine, a Republican who is also running for Governor, already announced that the state won’t participate in the high-risk pool requirements, thus inviting the federal government to directly contract for the provision of services within the state. And now, Kansas has also made the “preliminary decision” to opt out of the measure and bring about the very kind of federal intrusion that Republicans seek to avoid:
“From our standpoint, we just want to do what’s right for Kansas,” said John Meetz, a government affairs liaison at the Kansas Insurance Department. “We’re not looking at it as a political decision.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Insurance Commissioner James J. Donelon have made a preliminary decision to opt out of the program, Donelon said Monday.
He is a Republican and one of the dozen elected insurance commissioners in the country. But he said Louisiana’s decision was based largely on the concern that the states will be stuck with the bill. “On the surface, it appears to me to be a no-brainer,” Donelon said. “We can’t afford this.”
Jindal’s decision to invite the federal government into Louisiana — rather than using the new federal funds to improve the state’s existing high risk pool program — seems to contradict strong opposition to federal overreach into state health care policy. “I encourage those in Washington, D.C. to pick up a U.S. Constitution and read it,” Jindal has said of the bill. “If the 10th Amendment of the Constitution means anything, we need to stand up for the fact that the federal government can’t force Americans to buy a certain product as a requirement to be an American. If the federal government can do this, what can’t they do? Where does it stop?”
Apparently, it starts with Louisiana residents enrolling in a federal high risk pool program.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) has also said his state will not operate a high-risk insurance pool, forcing the federal government to step in and provide coverage for residents with pre-existing conditions.