WASHINGTON – Republican governors, many of whom have refused to implement the new healthcare law for the last 2 1/2 years, are now asking President Obama for more time to decide how to handle a key part of the law.
In a letter to the president Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, the current and incoming chairmen of the Republican Governors Assn., said governors do not have enough information to assess whether they should operate their own insurance exchanges in 2014 or leave the job to the federal government.
These exchanges are designed to allow Americans who don’t get coverage through work to buy insurance on Internet-based marketplaces much as they shop for airline tickets. The exchanges were to be operated by states by next fall so consumers could get insurance starting in January 2014.
But just 15 states, including California, Maryland and Connecticut, as well as the District of Columbia, have established an exchange, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.
Several states, most led by Republican governors, have indicated they will not run an exchange, including Virginia and Louisiana. Jindal has also said he will not take federal money to expand Medicaid coverage for all low-income residents of his state.
Ultimately, more than a third of the states are expected to reject the option to create an insurance exchange, forcing the federal government to step in and operate one in those states.
States have until Friday to notify the Obama administration whether they want to operate their own exchanges.
McDonnell and Jindal said that this was not enough time, given that many regulations outlining how exchanges will operate have not yet been released by the federal government.
“The lack of a complete and open rule-making process and the deficit of information being shared with states have created a virtual roadblock for governors, who must decipher what type of exchange is appropriate for their state,” McDonnell said.