Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration is opting out of creating the state insurance exchanges included in the new federal health overhaul, making Louisiana the second state to announce it will let the federal government administer the insurance markets.
The exchanges are insurance markets that will allow consumers to pick a subsidized private plan from a range of coverage levels and options.
State Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein confirmed the decision Wednesday, saying federal officials have provided too few details about how the exchanges should be run and Louisiana officials don’t want to be blamed for any increased insurance premiums tied to the new law.
“We think if the states run it, the feds will have less connection to the burden on families,” Greenstein said.
Florida was the first state which said no to setting up the exchanges. That earned a flurry of tut-tutting from Obama administration bureaucrats, which will undoubtedly now be directed at Louisiana as well.
“Of all the states, Florida is obviously one that has been the most reluctant to get out in front and engage in innovative ways to exercise their flexibility to implement the law,” said Paul Dioguardi, director of intergovernmental affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in an interview this week.
“What Governor Scott is really leaving on the table is the ability to implement the law of the land in a way that makes sense for Florida,” Dioguardi said. “What we’re left with is this federal fallback mechanism, which would be a missed opportunity for them to do it in a good Florida way.”
What the smarmy Mr. Dioguardi leaves out is that if Florida – and Louisiana, for that matter – creates the exchanges with federal grant dollars, they’ll be subjected to the entire cost of running them later when those grants run out. And the state budgets will take the hit.
“Bobby Jindal knows something about health care,” said Michael Cannon, the director of health care studies for the Cato Institute. “He knows this approach to health care is going to cause private insurance markets to implode and he doesn’t want to be any part of it.”
“ObamaCare is a terrible policy that needs to be repealed and replaced,” Jindal’s press secretary Kyle Plotkin said. “It creates enormous new costs and future unfunded liabilities for states financing their Medicaid programs.”
Louisiana, with Florida and 24 other states, is involved in the lawsuit claiming Obamacare is unconstitutional. District judge Roger Vinson threw out the law thanks to its provision for an individual mandate to purchase health insurance last month, and the case is on appeal at the 11th Circuit.
Last year, Louisiana’s legislature passed a bill (which Jindal signed) objecting to the health changes, declaring that no one in Louisiana can be required to have health insurance or to pay a penalty if they refuse to carry insurance.