As the legal challenges to ObamaCare continue to make their way around the country, Louisiana officials should know they do not need to play Washington D.C.’s game, an ALEC policy specialist told the Pelican Institute in an interview. Federal officials who insist on enforcing key provisions of the new federal health care law can be forced into spending their own resources instead of burdening state agencies, Christie Herrera, ALEC’s health and human services task force director, explained.
The consumer protections included as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, are likely to result in higher costs for states that are already experiencing severe budget pressures, according to the “State Legislators Guide to Repealing ObamaCare,” ALEC released earlier this month.
“A state will not be able to lessen the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act simply because it chooses to enforce the law,” the ALEC Guide warns. “In reality, states will only be able to tinker at its edges, or seek minor concessions from Washington. And so ObamaCare presents the following choice for legislators: expend limited state resources to enforce the law, or step back and let the federal government enforce the law on its own.”
Insurance commissions in Louisiana and elsewhere may not have clear statutory authority to enforce certain federal mandates, ALEC policy specialists have noted. This would include new consumer protections described in President Obama’s health care law such as the ban on pre-existing conditions for child-only coverage and the requirement that some individuals be permitted to stay their parent’s insurance until the age of 26.
“If states refuse to enforce the `consumer protections’ contained within ObamaCare, then the federal government will step in to do the job,” Herrera said. “States should let the federal government spend the time, money, and political capital required for implementation. I don’t think that states will be able to escape federal rules if they decide to get involved. Barring congressional repeal or a Supreme Court decision, this law will go forward as enacted — so state legislators would be wise to step back and let the federal government entirely own the consequences.”
ObamaCare, also calls for an expansion of Medicaid that could further exacerbate state budgetary shortfalls. Medicaid already accounts for about 17 percent of all state-level spending, according to StateHealthFacts.org, which exceeds what is spent on transportation and higher education combined. State policymakers could be forced into cutting other vital programs or reducing benefits for current enrollees as a consequence of the ObamaCare mandate, ALEC analysts have warned.
“States will be affected the most by ObamaCare, with the budget-busting Medicaid expansion, forced collaboration on federally-dictated health insurance exchanges, the unconstitutional individual mandate, and the federal takeover of state health insurance regulation,” Herrera warned. “And so that’s why 28 states have stepped forward to challenge this law and reclaim state sovereignty.”