According to a just-released study by the Commonwealth Fund and Georgetown University, most states are woefully behind in implementing even the most basic Obamacare consumer protections.
The report finds that “only 11 states and the District of Columbia have passed rules needed to implement the law.” That means the other 39 states — which constitute an overwhelming majority of the American population — find themselves playing catch-up when it comes to enacting Obamacare’s core regulations, including provisions that prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions and charging outsized premiums to elderly Americans.
It isn’t all bad news, as the study focuses on individual state efforts to change their insurance regulation rules — the federal government can still step in to enforce the measures in lieu of state action. And state insurance regulators that notice “problems in those areas – either through a review of insurer filings or through complaints from consumers – could contact insurers directly and ask that they fix the problems, or could notify the federal government, which can seek penalties against insurers that violate the health law.”
Still, the report’s findings illustrate the complexity of implementing the massive health care overhaul, which leaves a considerable amount of deference to unpredictable state governments. So far, as many as 30 GOP-led states have refused to implement Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion to help low-income Americans, and about half of U.S. states have refused to establish their own insurance marketplaces. And with 2014 fast approaching — and with it, full Obamacare implementation — many Americans may find their states unprepared for the impending changes.