State officials who oppose the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) are simply complaining about regulation delays and other implementation problems because they want to kill the law, not because they have much interest in fixing the problems.
Some Democrats on the House Energy & Commerce health subcommittee made that case today at a subcommittee hearing.
The subcommittee gave the hearing the title “State of Uncertainty: Implementation of PPACA’s Exchanges and Medicaid Expansion.”
In a background memo prepared before the hearing, the committee staff said that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), the HHS agency in charge of HHS PPACA implementation efforts, have failed to answer many questions about how PPACA will work.
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States are still not sure how a federal PPACA health insurance exchange, or Web-based insurance supermarket, will really work, or how much a state will really have to spend to run an exchange, committee staffers said.
Some of the other open questions relate to how flexible the exchange program and other PPACA deadlines will be, and exactly how programs for determining whether consumers are eligible for new and expanded health programs will work, staffers said.
The Democrats on the committee scoffed at the idea that the state officials are making the complaints with a sincere desire to improve PPACA implementation.
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., said Republicans first tried to repeal PPACA, then went to the U.S. Supreme Court to kill the law, and then hoped the November elections would kill the law.
“Their next move is to delay implementation under the guise of a lack of information,” Pallone said.
Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who is moving to the Senate in January, said Republican state officials should change their approach.
“The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land,” Baldwin said.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., one of the leaders of efforts to draft PPACA, said House Republicans are like members of a Groundhog Day Congress who repeat the phrase “we can’t do it” over and over again.
“Make it work,” Waxman said.
Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the Maryland health secretary, said PPACA critics have suggested that PPACA would reduce competition in the health insurance market.