Reports indicate that Governor Heineman has decided that the state should wait to fully implement a state-based exchange until the United States Supreme Court has ruled on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
It is critical that the state pass enabling legislation during the next legislative session to allow the state to create a state-based health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, if and when the Supreme Court rules the Affordable Care Act constitutional. To its credit, the Department of Insurance and Governor Heineman’s administration have moved forward thus far on much of the foundational work necessary to create an exchange in Nebraska. That work should not stop now. It is very possible that a decision from the Supreme Court would not be rendered until after Nebraska’s legislative session ends in April 2012. In order to have a state-based exchanged certified by January 2013, the Legislature must pass legislation to establish a state based exchange this next session. If the State is not far enough ahead in its planning by January 2013, the creation of the exchange will be turned over to the federal government.
A state-based exchange is a unique opportunity for Nebraska to create a new marketplace for health insurance that is more accessible and understandable to Nebraskans and through which Nebraskans can access tax credits to help them afford coverage. It is important for the tens of thousands of Nebraskans who go without needed health care everyday that the exchange is well planned.
It is our strong belief that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and will be found to be so by the Supreme Court. Nebraska should not miss the opportunity to create a state-based exchange, or turn it over to the federal government to create by default, because we did not continue to prepare.