Health Insurance Exchanges and the Power to Step Beyond Party Lines
While the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) drew clear political lines in the sand for some US politicians, a few stepped boldly beyond those lines to enable technological implementation for the benefit of healthcare consumers.
Most recently, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, decided to demonstrate remarkably balanced stewardship by deciding to sign legislation that would put into place the framework necessary to create the state’s health insurance exchange (HIX), as provided for under ACA.
“My job is to implement this law in a way that best serves New Mexicans,” Martinez said in a statement. “For over 18 months, we have been working to design, build, and implement a health insurance exchange that meets the unique needs of New Mexicans. This legislation builds on those efforts, which had already received conditional approval from the Obama administration, and represents a tremendous amount of hard work and compromise shared by my administration, the legislature, advocates, and the healthcare industry. We still have plenty of work left to do, but I am confident that, working together, we can get it done.”
States who decided not to begin building their own HIX would find themselves in the ironic position of having the federal government running it for them. In most cases, federal involvement in state affairs was precisely what many GOP governors took exception with.
A HIX is, however, little more that an intricate e-commerce site; Amazon.com for health insurance policies. Its difficult not to see the value in such a capability when rising healthcare costs and a lack of transparency leave many American consumers in the dark about both the coverages and costs of their coverage.
In early 2012, Governors Butch Otter of Idaho, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Brian Sandoval or Nevada, and Tom Corbet of Pennsylvania were all praised by the White House for their willingness to see beyond partisan rhetoric to begin working toward implementing a HIX.
Since then, 33 states have taken federal grants to start work on exchanges. Of those, 12 have Republican governors. Mississippi’s Phil Bryant picked up where outgoing Gov. Barbour left off. In Michigan,” Gov. Rick Snyder has stated, “Even if…a health insurance exchange were not mandated by the ACA, I would still be in favor.”
In the state of Alabama, Gov. Robert Bentley, initially in favor of setting up a HIX, has since backtracked, and is currently in the grips of a legislative struggle with the state senate who supports HIX implementation.
There appears to be a broad consensus among those capable and wiling to evaluate the situation objectively that greater access to healthcare information and purchasing power would indeed benefit most in the US. Clarity, however, is not something that comes very easy in the miasma of party politics, much to the dismay of an American electorate, which remains in great need of changes made to business as usual in the world of healthcare.