|By Jackie Farwell, Bangor Daily News, Maine|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
States must decide whether to set up the markets, called exchanges, or let the federal government step in to do it for them. The exchanges, online markets where consumers can buy coverage beginning next October, are a key component of President
"I'm not lifting a finger," he said in an interview with
LePage's comments came a day before a Friday deadline for states to notify the federal government if they want to run the exchanges themselves.
Described as "Travelocity for health insurance," the exchanges are websites where small businesses and individuals who aren't covered through their employer can shop for coverage. Enrollment will begin next October for plans that will take effect
Consumers can also use the exchanges to determine if they qualify for subsidies to help pay for their insurance or if they're eligible for
LePage and many other Republican governors have been highly critical of the health reform law, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In April, LePage returned a
Republican state lawmakers had already hit the brakes on planning for an exchange to wait for the
Republican governors continue resisting implementing major provisions of the law -- most of which will take effect in 2014 -- in the wake of
LePage's decision this week isn't necessarily permanent in the long term. States can still choose to run their own exchanges after 2014 or pursue a third option, partnering with the federal government.
States that notify the feds by Friday that they want to run their own exchange have until
Eight states remained undecided late Thursday. Four states planned to partner with the federal government on an exchange. HHS has given states until February to decide if they want to take that path in 2014.
States have been wrestling with how to operate the exchanges since the health reform law was signed in
The exchanges will make shopping for health insurance much less complicated, according to
"The implications are that for the first time [consumers] will actually have access to a side-by-side, apples-to-apples comparison of each insurance company's plan," he said. "That's huge."
The federal subsidies will make health insurance more affordable and likely encourage additional insurers to sell competitively priced policies in
It makes little difference for consumers whether the state or the federal government runs
"In the end, the law very much puts the feds in control," he said. "They certainly pull the strings, so there's a question about how much control do you really have at the state level to begin with."
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