More GOP Governors Leave Health Exchange Plans Up to Obama Administration

Republican governors in Ohio, Maine and Wisconsin announced decisions Thursday night and early this afternoon to leave plans for health care exchange programs that comply with the Affordable Care Act up to the federal government, despite a deadline extension on those plans from Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

Under the new health care law, each state must either create its own exchange from which residents can select a health care plan or allow the federal government to design one for them.

A statement on Ohio Gov. John Kasich's website said his decision to opt out was partially motivated by the lack of wiggle room in the law.

"Despite the perception to the contrary, the law gives states little flexibility or control over how the exchange in their state operates, making it difficult for Ohio to set up an exchange that responds to the unique needs of Ohioans or the Ohio insurance market," Kasich's statement read. "Basic operational details are controlled by the federal government, including open enrollment periods, requirements on how to set up and run call centers and the exchange's website."

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also cited a lack of flexibility, saying none of the options on the table were good for Wisconsin.

"No matter which option is chosen, Wisconsin taxpayers will not have meaningful control over the health care policies and services sold to Wisconsin residents," Walker wrote in his letter to Sebelius.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage said he and other leaders "continue to believe that the law has severe legal problems, is bad policy, and overreaches into the lives and pocketbooks of fellow Americans," the Kennebec Journal reported.

Kasich, Walker and LePage joined governors in Alaska, Alabama, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Louisiana and South Carolina in leaving the responsibility for the plans in the hands of the Obama administration.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley sent a letter to Sebelius on Thursday saying that South Carolina "should not and will not set up a state-based health care exchange."

Today was the original deadline by which states wanting to create their own programs would have had to notify Sebelius, but on Thursday that date was pushed back to Dec. 14.

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