Gov. Perdue chooses state-federal partnership

Published 10:43 am Friday, November 16, 2012

RALEIGH – Gov. Bev Perdue on Thursday declared the state’s intent to establish a state-federal partnership exchange to support implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Meanwhile, the Republican led NC Senate and one state/national organization are rallying against the governor’s decision.

The Governor signaled her support of the grant application to begin North Carolina’s health care exchange planning process. Her decision gives North Carolina input and a degree of control over the health care decision making process, and provides greater flexibility for the incoming administration.

Gov. Perdue notified Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, legislative leaders and Governor-elect Pat McCrory about her decision to choose the state-federal partnership model for expanded health care.

“North Carolina is moving forward with implementing a process that provides much needed health insurance for every citizen,” said Gov. Bev Perdue. “It is critical for our state to participate in decisions that affect our state’s citizens. We will not cede total control to the federal government. It remains my goal to pursue a state-based plan.”

Under North Carolina Session Law 2011-391, the North Carolina Department of Insurance (NC DOI) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) are charged with collaborating and planning in the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. NC DOI is the lead agency in planning North Carolina’s work regarding a Health Insurance Exchange.

Thursday was the deadline for states to submit grant applications for two of the three options available: full state control or a state-federal partnership. North Carolina missed the opportunity to set up a state-based exchange by 2014 since the legislature did not act on the issue during the last legislative session.

North Carolina will collaborate with the U.S. Department of Human Service’s Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight in establishing a Health Insurance Exchange.  That program will expand access to health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians.

On the other side of the issue, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) issued the following response Thursday to Gov. Beverly Perdue’s press conference declaring her intent to establish a state-federal partnership exchange.

“Let’s set the record straight – it is not necessary or appropriate for Gov. Perdue to prematurely declare her intent to establish a state-federal partnership exchange, Berger said.  “The initial deadline for the state to make this declaration is Feb. 15, 2013 – three months from today.  The voters elected a new legislature and governor last week and policy decisions of this magnitude should be left to them.”

Berger said he thinks it was reasonable for Perdue’s administration to apply for federal grants to keep the state’s options open, as long as it does not frivolously spend the tax dollars until the new leaders determine the next steps.

Last June, Berger explained that like many other states, the North Carolina Senate does not plan to create a state-based health benefit exchange this year.  November 16 is only an initial deadline necessary to have a state-based exchange in place by Jan. 1, 2014.  There will be ample opportunities to implement a state-based program beyond this deadline if that is the course the General Assembly, in collaboration with the new administration, decides to take during the 2013 session.

The North Carolina chapter of the free market grassroots group Americans for Prosperity (AFP-NC) called on the lame duck Governor not to set up a so-called health insurance exchange under the President’s health care law.  In a press release, AFP-NC said such a move by the governor comes despite overwhelming objections from the North Carolina state legislature and the governor’s lame duck status.

“Governor Purdue should not be making large scale policy changes that she knows the legislature does not support while she is on her way out the door,” said AFP-NC State Director Dallas Woodhouse.  “AFP is committed to working with the new legislature and the new governor to undo any exchange that Governor Purdue unwisely tries to set up.”

Under the President’s new health care law, states have the option of whether they want to set up a state-based health insurance exchange or leave the high costs and administrative burden to the federal government.  For months, opponents of the exchanges have pointed out that despite claims to the contrary there is no real state flexibility and that the “free” federal money to set up and run the exchanges will run out in two years, leaving state budgets to bear the brunt of the federal government’s policies.

“North Carolina should join the growing movement across the country rejecting these exchanges,” said AFP National Director of Policy James Valvo.  “Nearly a dozen states have already refused to implement these exchanges and North Carolina should do so as well.”