McDonnell faces difficult challenge on health care reform
It is a tough spot for Governor Bob McDonnell. He is the governor of a state in the heat of a presidential battle and he wants to be loyal to his party’s candidate. But he also has to continue to govern. He is now leading a state during a time where his opportunity to build a legacy is becoming shorter and shorter. That difficulty became an even bigger challenge when the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. It is a law McDonnell has fought against, but one that has enorormous implications in the day to day operations of the Commonwealth.
If health care reform continues to move forward (and with the high court’s ruling that seems more and more likely) Virginia must begin to take action to prepare for the bigger parts of its implementation, which begins in earnest in 2014. The best example is the creation of health benefits exchange. It is a power states have to do for themselves, but if they wait, the feds will do it for them.
Republican governors like McDonnell are being careful to not start the implementation, for fear it may look like they have given up the fight on repealing the law. But democrats are now pouncing on the inaction, accusing the GOP of playing politics with people’s health care.
Here is my story from NBC12:
Now that the health care law has been deemed constitutional, states across America need to prepare for its continued implementation. But that’s already leading to battles here in Virginia.
The Affordable Care Act requires each state to create a health benefits exchange, where individuals and businesses could find competitive prices for health insurance.
It is supposed to be in place by 2013 and ready to operate in 2014.
In Virginia, both sides can’t agree on a way to make it happen, and politics could be to blame.
During the rocky 2012 Virginia legislative session, lawmakers, like Richmond Delegate Jennifer McClellan, presented legislation to create health benefits exchanges.
But things got a tad bit off track.
Social issues dominated the docket, pushing a debate on exchanges to the side. Meanwhile the health care law looked to be in constitutional danger, and a presidential election was heating up.
Now the high court has ruled, and McClellan is back, asking for a special session to start the process of the benefits exchange.
“We have lost precious time, and federal resources,” said McClellan. She believes it is time for the governor and Virginia republicans to accept the fact that health care reform is moving forward.
But while the Supreme Court has had its say, the presidential election is still in full swing and the Governor Bob McDonnell’s chosen candidate has promised “obamacare” won’t be around for long.
read the rest of the story on NBC12.com
Full statements from Del. McClellan and the governor’s office can be found after the jump.
Office of Delegate Jennifer McClellan
Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act, Governor Should Call Special Session to Establish State Health Benefits Exchange
Yesterday, in a historic decision, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. This landmark legislation ensures adequate health care coverage to all Americans regardless of income or pre-existing conditions. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we protect the financial security of those most in need during these times of economic uncertainty.
The Courts decision also underscores why Virginia should no longer wait to establish a state health benefits exchange. In January, I sponsored HB 357 to create a state-run health insurance exchange to create a marketplace for individuals and small businesses to shop for insurance coverage. I argued then in an editorial in the Richmond Times Dispatch that Virginia should not wait to establish a framework for its exchange. The Affordable Care Act requires state exchanges to be operational by 2013 and for coverage to begin in 2014, and provided federal funds to do so. If a state does not, the federal government will run the exchange for it.
My bill was one of six bipartisan proposals held hostage to litigation challenging the Affordable Care Act. Now we have lost precious time, and federal resources. I call on Governor McDonnell to convene a Special Session of the General Assembly to implement a state exchange that his own Virginia Health Reform Initiative recommended “to preserve and enhance competition.”
Statement from the office of Governor Bob McDonnell:
“Based on events still to come, and ongoing changes in guidance from the federal government regarding the timeline for any state action, the Governor does not believe there is a need to call a special session. The federal government has now added multiple additional deadlines for applying for any federal grants. While the constitutional questions regarding the healthcare bill have been resolved by the Supreme Court, many policy issues remain. Congress is voting on a repeal of the legislation in a few weeks. Governor Romney has pledged waivers and repeal if elected. The federal government cannot provide clear guidance on the design and contents of a federal exchange making it very difficult to conclusively determine if a state run exchange is preferable for our citizens. Our Administration has the authority and resources to continue to work internally to ensure that the Commonwealth is prepared for any actions that must be taken in the months ahead. To call a special session now, when there is no urgent deadline and when issues dealing with exchanges can be handled, if necessary, during a regular session of the General Assembly, would be an unnecessary usage of limited taxpayer dollars.”
-J. Tucker Martin, McDonnell Director of Communications