Daniels seeks input on health exchanges


By Lesley Weidenbener

Republican Mike


said Tuesday that Indiana should not act to set up a state-operated

health care exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Pence's comments come after Indiana

Gov. Mitch Daniels

sent letters to Pence, Democrat John


, and Libertarian Rupert


asking for their opinions regarding whether the state should

operate its own exchange, which is a system meant to foster an affordable

environment for individuals to buy coverage.

If the state does not take on the exchange, federal

officials will step in to create one.

"There is too much uncertainty surrounding the

Affordable Care Act for Indiana to even consider implementing our own exchange,"

Pence said in a statement. "The national debate is far from over and the

regulatory, fiscal and legal implications have the potential to cost Hoosier

taxpayers and employers millions."

Daniels has estimated that creating an exchange could cost

Indiana at least $50 million annually.

Daniels was seeking input from the candidates because while

initial decisions about the exchange must be made yet this year, the program

wouldn't be implemented until the next governor takes office.

The health

insurance exchanges

are a key part of the federal law and are meant to

foster an affordable environment for individuals to buy coverage.

Daniels must tell federal authorities whether the state will

create an exchange, leave the job to the federal government or create a hybrid

partnership by Nov. 16, just weeks before Daniels will turn the governor's

office over to a successor.

The state must also select an Essential

Health Benefits

package that will be offered in small and individual group

markets, even if the state doesn't move forward with its own exchange. The

state must make that decision by Sept. 30.

Pence and Boneham met with Daniels' staff last week to talk

about the issue.

John Gregg's spokesman, Daniel Altman, said that although a

meeting has yet to take place, the Democrat looks forward "to talking with

Gov. Daniels about how to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for

all Hoosiers."

The health care law originally mandated states to expand

Medicaid coverage to more people, but a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision made

the expansion optional. Daniels has expressed concern that an expansion might

be so expensive that it would crowd out funding for education and other

programs, but the Medicaid decision will be made after he leaves office.


Weidenbener is managing editor of The Statehouse File, a news service powered

by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.


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