NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Thumb Nose at Health Reform

October 13, 2010

A handful of governors are beginning to seriously flex their muscles in attempts to block the federal health reform law by rejecting grants or legislative action, says Politico.

After the struggle to pass health reform dominated Washington for the better part of a year, the issues of implementation were largely left to governors and state legislatures to hash out.  The vast majority of states have applied for initial rounds of grants, but several have remained notably obstinate.

  • Alaska and Minnesota were the only states not to apply for health exchange planning grants.
  • Three others -- Wyoming, Iowa and Georgia -- joined them in not pursuing an additional $1 million grant for rate reviews, released in the summer.

Most recently, Utah has become active in opposing more federal regulation of insurance markets.  With Massachusetts, Utah is one of the few states that already operate a health exchange.  State officials fear that new regulations could diverge greatly from the marketplace they know and like, says Politico.

Health reform advocates who have pushed back against their governors' disengagement -- urging them to take a more active role in implementation -- have seen little success.

  • Alaska's Democratic state senators have become increasingly aggressive in pressuring Republican Gov. Sean Parnell and his administration on the issue, but to little avail.
  • The situation is similar in Minnesota, where Gov. Tim Pawlenty has taken a hard line against the health reform law.
  • Pawlenty has barred any state agencies from applying for health reform-related grants; and, just last week, he prohibited them from sending public comment on health exchanges to the Health and Human Services Department.

Source: Sarah Kliff, "States Thumb Nose at Health Reform," Politico, October 12, 2010.

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