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House Dems call on Gov. McDonnell to implement state-run health exchange

state-capitol2Democrats from the House Caucus held a press conference Thursday calling on Gov. Bob McDonnell and Virginia’s GOP to expand Medicaid and implement a state run health exchange.

“Complying with these two provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act should be at the top of the agenda during the upcoming session,” said House Democratic Caucus Chair Mark Sickles.

McDonnell announced last week that he had submitted a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declaring that Virginia will not be pursuing a state-based health benefits exchange for 2014. States were required to submit no later than Dec. 14 a blueprint application requesting conditional approval for a state-based exchange.

States have until Feb. 15, 2013 to signal their intent to participate in a hybrid model or default to a federally facilitated exchange.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, by Jan. 1, 2014, states are required to establish an insurance marketplace primarily for individuals and small businesses. The law details that if a state does not establish (or decides not to establish) its own exchange, the federal government will run an exchange for the state.

In addition to the two models described in statute, the federal government has also created a hybrid model where states are able to control portions of an exchange while relying on the federal government to provide the remaining functions.

“It is reckless and irresponsible for Gov. McDonnell to turn his back on over 400,000 of Virginia’s poorest citizens – 84,000 of which are our children,” said Del. Patrick Hope. “The fact is Virginia’s hospitals and clinics are already providing care and treating the uninsured; and taxpayers are already paying the bill. Walking away from funding to cover these costs makes absolutely no sense.”

Del. Jennifer McClellan added, “I’m disappointed and puzzled that McDonnell would opt out of a state-run health care exchange when a commission he created advised creating one.”