Monday was the deadline for states to report what their “essential health benefits” packages will look like under Obamacare’s newly-created insurance exchanges, which go into effect in 2014. But dozens of states are either unprepared or are refusing to set up their own exchanges, leaving it up to the federal government to set up the exchanges there.
Some Republican governors are refusing to make a decision about the programs in their states until after the election in case Mitt Romney, who has promised to repeal Obamacare on his first day in office, is elected. If it becomes clear that the health care reform law will not be repealed, those states will have to work quickly after the November election to meet the deadlines:
Some experts believe a larger number of states will eventually set up their own exchanges if President Obama is reelected. Their timetable is short, however, because the exchanges must be operating in time for open enrollment in October 2013.
States must declare their plans to the Department of Health and Human Services by Nov. 16. In addition to the 13 states that have expressed their intent to set up marketplaces, three states have decided to partner with the federal government in forming the exchanges. Eight have opted to leave the task exclusively to federal authorities.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to say that his state will not set up the minimum benefits because Bentley claims “that the law does not make health insurance affordable and negatively affects consumer choice.” For Alabama and the other states that do not set up the required minimum benefits, Kaiser Health News reports that the federal government will step in to set the benchmark at “the largest small group plan in the state.”