Romney’s Transition Chief Is Encouraging States To Implement Obamacare

A little more than a week after Mitt Romney lost his bid for the presidency, the prominent Republican tapped to head his transition is encouraging states to implement the Affordable Care Act, a law which Romney had pledged to eliminate on “day one” during the 2012 campaign.

Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt — who also served as Health and Human Services Secretary under President George W. Bush — had been helping states establish the law’s exchanges through his firm Leavitt Partners before being tapped for the high-profile transition job. And now, as Republican governors decide how to move forward with the law in the face of a second Obama term, Leavitt is “working to get states to create their own exchanges” — the new marketplaces that will connect consumers with insurance coverage by 2014. States have the option of establishing and administrating their own systems or outsourcing the task to the federal government.

The former Utah governor’s outfit, Leavitt Partners, argues that it will be a “bureaucratic nightmare” for states to deal with the federal government if they don’t have their own exchanges, that states would be giving up the power to design their own uniquely tailored systems if they default to the feds, and that they risk losing regulatory authority over insurers that operate in their states under the auspices of the federally designed exchange.

As of Friday, 19 states had indicated they would let the feds run their exchanges, 11 are still undecided, while 20 states and the District of Columbia “had announced they would set up exchanges partially or fully run by their states.”

Leavitt Partners is heavily invested in the law’s state-based exchanges and “has been advising companies and state legislatures on how to create exchanges.” The group hired former government officials who helped build the Utah exchange soon after the federal health law passed and its websites brags about its abilities to help clients implement the measure.