The House of Representatives voted last month to repeal funding for the state health-insurance exchanges, which are required under President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The House GOP's vote reflects a grassroots revolt: Republican governors and legislatures from New Mexico to Georgia have also moved to kill or stall legislation establishing exchanges. A better approach might be to rally around the original tenets of the health exchange model.
Republican hostility to the exchanges was not inevitable. The concept has been endorsed on the right, by groups such as the Heritage Foundation and officials such as former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and exchange like-programs have been used successfully in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program and Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs. The argument for insurance exchanges is relatively simple. By setting up Web sites where consumers and small businesses can easily compare insurance options (including quality, price and coverage), states will spark competition, driving insurers to offer more affordable plans to consumers.
The health law, however, takes this simple idea and makes it extraordinarily complicated -- if not impossible -- to execute. By adding a litany of new minimum-insurance requirements and regulations to the original bipartisan idea, health insurance purchased through an exchange will likely end up more expensive than it is now.
Read the rest of the commentary on Kaiser Health News.