Gov. Dave Heineman has chosen to enroll Nebraska in a federally run health exchange program, saying a state-based option is too expensive and inflexible.
The Republican governor announced Thursday that he had rejected the state-based exchange as an option, even though it was touted by some lawmakers and health care advocates as the best option.
“I want to share with Nebraskans that I have listened to all sides of this issue,” said Gov. Heineman. “As Governor, my focus is on implementing the federal health care law in the most efficient and cost effective manner for Nebraskans and their families.”
Heineman says he was initially leaning toward a state-run exchange, but a budget review showed that a federal exchange was cheaper for state taxpayers in Nebraska. Heineman says the state-run option was also full of federal mandates, and Nebraska would have little control.
“The reality is that the federal health care law is being totally dictated and totally controlled by the federal government,” the Governor added.
“On the key issues, there is no real operational difference between a federal exchange and a state exchange. A state exchange is nothing more than the state administering the Affordable Care Act with all of the important and critical decisions made by the federal government.”
The Affordable Care Act calls for the creation of health insurance exchanges, state-run or federal-run markets where households and small businesses can shop for private coverage. Governors have a Nov. 16 deadline to indicate their intent to establish a state-based exchange. If a state does not elect to run a state-based exchange, then the health exchange will be implemented by the federal government.
According to the federal law, open enrollment is scheduled to begin for health exchange plans Oct. 1, 2013. Any exchange is expected to be fully operational on Jan. 1, 2014.