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Candidate Gregg 'leaning' to hybrid health exchange

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg would likely support a hybrid health insurance exchange for Hoosiers if elected in November and said Monday that proposals to do nothing are an abdication of responsibility that places Hoosiers "at the mercy" of the federal government.

The flexibility of state control and the financial aid available from the federal government "is something that merits us looking at it and is something that we think is the way, at this point in time, to go," Gregg said Monday.

Gregg and running mate Vi Simpson met Monday morning with Gov. Mitch Daniels to discuss an exchange. Daniels has until Nov. 16 to tell the federal government which type of exchange the state will pick and has asked the three gubernatorial candidates to advise him.

The pending decisions were set in place after the Supreme Court found the requirement that individuals purchase healthcare to be constitutional. That decision cleared the path for state leaders to decide how they would implement the exchanges that would be used to sell insurance.

Gregg's position echoes recommendations made by Libertarian candidate Rupert Boneham last week. Both Gregg and Boneham have criticized Republican Mike Pence for proposing the state do nothing in response to the federal mandate.

"Not participating is not an option, because if you take no action you're going to be left at the mercy of the federal government, because they will place you in their program without any protection, (without) any input from the state," Gregg said. "That means if we choose nothing, Hoosier citizens will pay the price. Like it or not, when you run for the office of governor, you have to govern, you have to lead, and this is one of those tough things."

A Pence campaign spokeswoman declined repeated request for comment about Gregg's remarks this week and Boneham's similar critiques last week. Instead Pence released a statement attacking the federal health care law.

In his letter to Daniels last week, Pence argued that there was enough "uncertainty" to justify not submitting a plan to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He cited the possible election of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to be president, pending control of the U.S. House and Senate and questions about health care rules being written as reasons for not taking action now.

Pence's position is in line with many Republican governors who have flatly said they will not abide the law. The Obama administration has said that states that do not submit a plan will have their residents placed in the federal exchange.

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  1. You are correct that Obamacare requires health insurance policies to include richer benefits and protects patients who get sick. That's what I was getting at when I wrote above, "That’s because Obamacare required insurers to take all customers, regardless of their health status, and also established a floor on how skimpy the benefits paid for by health plans could be." I think it's vital to know exactly how much the essential health benefits are costing over previous policies. Unless we know the cost of the law, we can't do a cost-benefit analysis. Taxes were raised in order to offset a 31% rise in health insurance premiums, an increase that paid for richer benefits. Are those richer benefits worth that much or not? That's the question we need to answer. This study at least gets us started on doing so.

  2. *5 employees per floor. Either way its ridiculous.

  3. Jim, thanks for always ready my stuff and providing thoughtful comments. I am sure that someone more familiar with research design and methods could take issue with Kowalski's study. I thought it was of considerable value, however, because so far we have been crediting Obamacare for all the gains in coverage and all price increases, neither of which is entirely fair. This is at least a rigorous attempt to sort things out. Maybe a quixotic attempt, but it's one of the first ones I've seen try to do it in a sophisticated way.

  4. In addition to rewriting history, the paper (or at least your summary of it) ignores that Obamacare policies now must provide "essential health benefits". Maybe Mr Wall has always been insured in a group plan but even group plans had holes you could drive a truck through, like the Colts defensive line last night. Individual plans were even worse. So, when you come up with a study that factors that in, let me know, otherwise the numbers are garbage.

  5. You guys are absolutely right: Cummins should build a massive 80-story high rise, and give each employee 5 floors. Or, I suppose they could always rent out the top floors if they wanted, since downtown office space is bursting at the seams (http://www.ibj.com/article?articleId=49481).

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