INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Democratic lawmakers pushed Wednesday for Indiana to take steps toward implementing the federal health care overhaul that Republicans who control state government have so far rejected.
States have the option of setting up their own insurance exchanges to allow individuals and small businesses to compare and buy private insurance policies. They also can partner with the federal government, or if they fail to act, the federal government will run one for them.
Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who took office Monday, has ruled out a state-run health insurance exchange in Indiana, arguing its estimated $50 million cost wouldn't be worth the limited autonomy the state would gain.
Democrats maintain a state-run exchange would better serve residents, and Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, said that she has filed a bill to put one in place.
"We need to get on board with setting up this exchange," Tallian said. "We need local control and participation in this is inevitable. ... There's no reason why, just off the top, we should ignore the possibility of doing an Indiana-controlled exchange."
Republicans dominate both the Indiana House and Senate and several of them have previously attacked the Affordable Care Act backed by President Barack Obama as burdensome and unconstitutional.
The decision by Pence, who opposed the overhaul while he was in Congress, likely means the federal government alone will design the online marketplace that Indiana residents will use to choose among health insurance policies when coverage begins in 2014.
Last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the health care law makes the overhaul impossible for the states to ignore, and Indiana officials should talk more about how to develop a state-run exchange that will work best for Indiana residents, said Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis.