Governors Demand Expedited Review, Flexibility From Administration

Published April 1, 2011

As governors across the nation continue to determine how to respond to the demands of President Obama’s health care law in the wake of two court decisions in Florida and Virginia which found it unconstitutional, 27 Republican governors have requested the White House support an expedited Supreme Court review of the law.

The governors requested Obama direct the U.S. Department of Justice to support an expedited appellate process to send the pending healthcare lawsuits to the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as possible.

“Given the daunting and costly financial and regulatory burdens that our states and the private sector will face in implementing [Obamacare] over the coming years, particularly during this unprecedented budgetary time, public interest requires expediting a final resolution of the litigation to give certainty as soon as possible,” the governors wrote in a letter on Feb. 9. “We should not endure years of litigation in the circuit courts, when the Supreme Court can promptly provide finality.”

The press for expedited review at the Supreme Court level has gathered support from several elected officials in Washington, including Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida.

Second Letter in a Week

The expedited review request from the states followed a letter from 21 Republican governors who wrote to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calling for more flexibility from the requirements to form state-level insurance exchanges.

Citing the uncertainty caused by court decisions against the law, the governors requested elimination of mandates on benefit coverage, a harder line on income verification to determine eligibility for subsidies, and the waiving of provisions that “discriminate against consumer-driven health plans, such as health savings accounts.”

“Many of us believe [Obamacare] should be repealed by Congress if the courts do not strike it down first,” the governors wrote, “But, with no assurance of either outcome, we face the decision of whether to participate in the bill by operating state exchanges.”

States Demand Flexibility
One of the chief areas for which governors demanded flexibility is Medicaid, where increased eligibility caused by Obamacare threatens to bankrupt several states. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (R) recently proposed a solution to the challenges Medicaid poses in many states. He wants the Obama administration to allow creation of multistate insurance pools funded by federal block grants—an idea Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry endorsed in an interview with Health Care News.

“The current Medicaid expansion under Obamacare would cost the state of Texas more than $30 billion over the next ten years if it were to go into effect,” Perry said. “We need a system that allows for people to choose whatever fits their needs, not just a one-size-fits-all solution from Washington.”

According to a spokesperson for the Texas Dept. of State Health Services, the state is examining the costs of moving to a block grant system.

“No one has more at stake than we do,” Perry said. “We need more flexibility at the state level.”

Benjamin Domenech ([email protected]) is managing editor of Health Care News.

Internet Info:

Governors’ letter to President Obama: