Gov. Dave Heineman submitted Nebraska's decision to participate in the federal health insurance exchange Thursday, citing the extreme cost differential that ultimately the Nebraska taxpayer would have to incur.
"I want to share with Nebraskans that I have listened to all sides of this issue," said Gov. Heineman. "As governor, my focus is on implementing the federal health care law in the most efficient and cost effective manner for Nebraskans and their families."
Whether a state runs their own health exchange, or uses the one provided by the federal government, all citizens will have the option to purchase insurance policies through an exchange.
Heineman says that his decision ultimately came down to what is best for Nebraska's hard-working, middle class taxpayers.
Fiscal analysis of budget impacts done by the Department of Insurance and the Department of Health and Human Services calculate the cost of a state insurance exchange for Fiscal Years 2013-2020 at $646 million; while the cost of a federal insurance exchange is $176 million. That means Nebraskan's would have to find an extra $470 million to cover the cost of a state exchange.
The analysis includes costs associated with building, managing and maintaining a state-based exchange; including, but not limited to: website development, call center operations, an insurance premium billing system, staffing, equipment, supplies, office space, and the technology costs related to each of these functions. In addition, these costs include expenses necessary for the health exchange to work together with the Medicaid program, in accordance with requirements of the federal law.
"The reality is that the federal health care law is being totally dictated and totally controlled by the federal government," added Heineman. "On the key issues, there is no real operational difference between a federal exchange and a state exchange. A state exchange is nothing more than the state administering the Affordable Care Act with all of the important and critical decisions made by the federal government."
The Affordable Care Act calls for the creation of health insurance exchanges, state-run or federal-run markets where households and small businesses can shop for private coverage.
Governors have until Nov. 16 to announce their intent to establish a state-based exchange. If a state does not elect to run a state-based exchange, then the health exchange will be implemented by the federal government.
According to the federal law, open enrollment is scheduled to begin for health exchange plans Oct. 1, 2013. Any exchange is expected to be fully operational on Jan. 1, 2014.
Courtesy- Gov. Heineman's Office