The Associated Press is reporting that Alaska Governor Sean Parnell (R) — who is the only governor not to apply for a federal Health Insurance Exchange Planning Grant, which funds the preparations for an online exchange — will not enact the federal health care overhaul “after a judge in Florida struck down the law as unconstitutional”:
Parnell, who sought the advice of his attorney general amid concerns implementing the law would violate his oath of office, told the Juneau Chamber of Commerce the state would pursue lawful, market-based solutions to making insurance affordable and accessible to Alaskans.
He said the Florida judge’s ruling is the law of the land, as it pertains to Alaska, barring implementation of the federal law here. He said the state will pursue options of its own instead.
Failing to implement the law or establish an exchange would require the federal government to step in and offer Alaskans coverage through a federal-based insurance exchange. Funding for a federal exchange — which will cost $235.9 million — is part of the administration’s FY 2012 budget request.
Parnell is the only anti-reform governor who is using his opposition to the Affordable Care Act to prevent his state from applying for federal grants to help regulators police unreasonable insurance health premiums, plan for the exchanges, and most other grants (Alaskan businesses and seniors are taking advantage of the law, however). A number of the other 25 states that are part of the multi-state challenge have sent back a portion of the federal grants, but all have accepted a far greater portion of the early benefits of reform.
Alaska, meanwhile, is suffering from a fairly severe health care crisis and would stand to benefit from the aforementioned grants to employers and regulators. Nineteen percent of Alaskans and 12 percent of children are without insurance coverage and the state’s health care costs tend to grow faster than the national average.