NFIB: 'No Rush' on Creating Obamacare Exchange

Charles S. Owens, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, told the Michigan House Health Policy Committee Thursday, “I wouldn’t be in any rush to create a state exchange.”

Owens cited similar evidence for taking an unhurried approach as the arguments presented by the Mackinac Center here. His testimony outlined the following concerns:

"We would contend that there is no need to act quickly as has been urged by some who have testified here and in front of the Senate Health Policy Committee as well. Indeed, had you acted quickly and implemented an exchange before July of this year, you would have been blindsided by the Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed exchange regulations issued in July that diminished some of the opportunities for a simpler, less complicated model. In fact, some have argued that under those proposed regulations, and more that could follow, a state would have no more real control over an exchange it set up than over one established by the federal government (HHS).

"As you deliberate here today and during the rest of this year and into next year there are many unanswered questions, not the least of which is whether or not there will even be a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in existence:

  • "While just 24 months remain until exchanges must open for business, HHS has made little discernible progress toward creating federal fallback exchanges.
  • "Due to a recently discovered error in the statute, the new health care law only authorizes premium assistance in state-run exchanges — not federal exchanges.
  • "The PPACA provides that 'essential health benefits' shall be defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Outside of a list of ten general categories of benefits, the Secretary has not issued any regulations that further define essential health benefits.
  • "PPACA invests officials with power to exempt specific businesses from certain provisions. The Department of Health and Human Services has granted some, but not all, businesses 'mini-med waivers,' but has never explained the criteria by which waiver requests are granted or refused.
  • "Much of PPACA was written in general terms; regulators will spend years writing the specifics. Example: a business with 50 or more employees will owe tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in insurance premiums and/or penalties. But whether or not a firm is under, over, or at 50 depends on as-yet-unwritten definitions of part-timers, temps, and seasonal workers."

Owens also urged legislators to include a “sunset” clause that automatically repeals any state exchange law if Obamacare is invalidated or repealed.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.