INDIANAPOLIS – Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg said Monday he favors a hybrid health care exchange model.
Running mate Vi Simpson noted that Republican opponent Mike Pence failed to make a decision on the matter, instead throwing Hoosiers under the federal bureaucratic bus.
The comments from the Democratic ticket came after a meeting with Gov. Mitch Daniels, who had sought input from all governor hopefuls.
Health care exchanges are new entities being set up under the federal health care act to create an organized and competitive market for buying health insurance.
They will offer a choice of health plans and largely serve individuals or small businesses buying insurance.
States have the choice of setting up their own exchange, joining a regional exchange, taking a hybrid approach or doing nothing.
If they decide to do nothing, the federal government steps in and makes all the decisions.
Indiana has taken some preparatory steps, but Daniels has not officially moved forward with a plan.
States are required to decide by Nov. 16, only a few days after a new governor will have been elected but before he will have taken office. Daniels said he will honor the recommendation of whoever is elected.
Gregg said he supports the hybrid state/federal option because the state retains control while receiving reimbursement from the federal government.
We want Hoosiers making decisions, not yahoos in Washington D.C., he said.
Daniels said preliminary estimates show the cost to operate an Indiana health care exchange will be between $50 million and $65 million a year.
Greggs campaign provided further cost analysis that showed the cost to the state under a hybrid at between $13.9 million and $25 million a year. If the federal government takes control the cost would be between $10.4 million and $18.3 million annually.
Pence urged Daniels not to set up a state-run exchange, saying there is too much uncertainty. Many Republicans are banking on the idea that results from the November election will make it possible to delay or repeal the law.
But Gregg said the law is on the books and has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. That means it is up to him as governor – if elected – to make sure it benefits all Hoosiers.
When you run for the office of governor you have to govern, you have to lead, he said.
Pence responded by reiterating that he opposes the federal health care act.
Hoosiers dont want their hard-earned money spent implementing the Obama administrations deeply flawed health care bureaucracy. Hoosiers now have a clear choice in this election. We can provide affordable and accessible health care through homegrown solutions like our Healthy Indiana Program, or we can embrace the Washington-based solution of Obamacare with its excessive federal regulation, taxes and penalties for employers. I choose more freedom, more innovation and Hoosier solutions over Obamacare.
It is up to the federal government – not Pence – whether the states HIP program even continues after 2013.
Libertarian candidate Rupert Boneham said Friday that he would also prefer the hybrid exchange.
I can tell you that there are massive amounts of questions left unanswered by the federal agencies, he said. In a hybrid exchange, Indiana would retain control over plan management and customer assistance. We would also be able to set requirements and regulations, as needed, for consumer counselors and insurance brokers.
The major financial burden in a state-run exchange comes from the processing and reinsurance of Medicaid and (childrens health insurance). Under a hybrid exchange, some of those functions and costs can be deferred back to U.S. Health and Human Services.