The federal government is expected to begin setting up a health insurance exchange program for Missouri, after voters approved a ballot initiative last week barring Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's administration from doing it.
Under Obamacare, however, Missouri would be allowed to convert it to a state-run program later on if it chooses to do so, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The exchange, designed to help consumers locate affordable health plans by pooling dozens of insurance company offerings online, is a key element of 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
Under the law, all 50 states are required to meet a Nov. 16 deadline for submitting their own proposals. Failure to meet the deadline, which many states chose to do pending the outcome of the presidential election, results in the federal government putting its own program in place, tailored to each state.
Enrollment for the exchanges is scheduled to begin next October, with the programs going live on the Internet in 2014, when the healthcare law goes into full effect.
Nixon has said he does not think a federally-run exchange is right for Missouri. But he told reporters last week that the state may not have any choice at this time but to accept what federal draws up for Missouri.
"Regulating the insurance market is a power best left in the hands of the states, where we can perform those duties more efficiently and effectively, and provide better services for our consumers," he said, according to the Post-Dispatch. "But based on current law and the federal deadline, a state-based option isn't on the table at this time.
Meanwhile, Republican state lawmakers, who are still opposed to Obamacare, have begun discussing proposals of their own for a Missouri-run exchange program out of concern that allowing the federal government to proceed unilaterally would give Washington too much power over the state. The state's legislature's GOP majority plans to address the issue when it meets next week.
Missouri could decide, as three other states have done, to form a partnership plan with the federal government to create the exchange.
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