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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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