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Published On: Fri, Jan 4th, 2013

Eight more states get their state health insurance exchanges approved for Obamacare

The federal government conditionally approved eight additional states to run health exchanges Thursday, bringing the total to 20 states that will have the programs that were authorized by the 2010 federal health care law.

Kathleen Sebelius  HHS photo

Kathleen Sebelius HHS photo

The newly approved states that will run their own exchanges are California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont and Utah. Arkansas will partner with the federal government for its exchange.

Although states with Republican governors have fought the law, such as Texas, four of them — Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah — have created the exchanges.

“I do think at lot of eyes are on Utah,” said Cheryl Smith, a director at Leavitt Partners, which advises states about how to create exchanges. Utah has had its own exchange since 2006. “I think it also helps that Idaho was there. I think that bodes well for other ‘red states.’ ”

Former Utah governor and Health and Human Services (HHS) Department secretary Mike Leavitt, a Republican, runs Leavitt partners.

Some conservative groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, say the exchanges forces the states to give up insurance regulation and advise states to rebel against the law by refusing to take federal money to create the exchanges.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said residents of all 50 states would have access to a new marketplace in 10 months. Those who live in areas without a state-run exchange will be able to use the federal exchange.

The approval of Idaho and Utah shows that HHS is “desperate for good news,” said Michael Cannon, health policy expert for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank that opposes the health care law. Utah’s governor has asked HHS to let the state exchange remain virtually unchanged, Cannon said, while Idaho would have to break a state law prohibiting employers or employees from being penalized for not buying insurance.

No matter what states say about their independence running the exchanges, HHS will still control them, Cannon said. That’s because HHS has final say over implementation. Arguments to the contrary, he said, are “just a smoke screen to get the states to do the heavy lifting on the exchanges.”

HHS website

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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