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Daniels seeks candidate input on health exchange

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels asked the three gubernatorial candidates this week for their input as he decides whether to establish a state health insurance exchange.

Daniels wrote in a July 30 letter that the decision should be made with the candidates because one of them — Republican Mike Pence, Democrat John Gregg or Libertarian Rupert Boneham — will bear the responsibility of the decision.

Daniels has until Nov. 16 to submit a plan to federal officials for an exchange. If the state does not establish its own insurance exchange, Indiana residents would have to seek insurance via the federal exchange. The exchanges are meant to allow consumers to comparison shop for insurance.

He also asked the candidates to weigh in on what benefits should be covered by Medicaid and insurers included in a potential exchange, as the state must submit a plan for them next month.

"Because the cost and consequences of our decision in these two matters will be borne by the next administration, I do not believe it would be right for me to make these choices," Daniels wrote in the letter, which was distributed to news outlets Thursday.

The Supreme Court's vote in June to uphold the individual mandate put the question back to state leaders. The high court also decided that states could not be forced to expand Medicaid coverage. Daniels has said that decision will have to be made by his successor.

Pence's feelings on the health care law are of little mystery. Hours after the high court's ruling, he compared the decision to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He later apologized for the comparison.

Still, Pence has not explicitly ruled out supporting a state-run exchange.

"Any action Indiana takes must include careful consideration of the long-term costs to both Hoosier taxpayers and the state," he said in a statement. "I appreciate Governor Daniels seeking my input, and I will provide a thoughtful, written response in a timely manner."

Gregg also has been noncommittal about whether the state should establish its own exchange.

"We look forward to talking with Governor Daniels about how to make healthcare affordable and accessible for all Hoosiers," Gregg spokesman Daniel Altman said in a statement.

Boneham's campaign manager, Evan McMahon, said Thursday that the campaign was still reviewing Daniels' letter.

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