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Stop Preparing For ‘Obamacare’

January 4, 2012
By The Intelligencer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

State officials should simply stop attempting to prepare West Virginia for "Obamacare." Even if the national health care law is not overturned by the Supreme Court, the state has been given virtually no guidance on what is needed to bring us into compliance with it.

Later this year, high court justices will consider the law - which is blatantly unconstitutional. If for some strange reason the mandate is upheld, it will impose enormous burdens on all states, including ours.

For example, the law requires a dramatic expansion of the Medicaid program, funded jointly by states and the federal government. It has been estimated about 130,000 West Virginians would have to be added to Medicaid rolls to avoid running afoul of Obamacare.

That would dump a gigantic new obligation on Mountain State taxpayers, of tens of millions of dollars a year, at least.

But there is much, much more to Obamacare. It requires all Americans to buy government-approved health insurance, sometimes with subsidies from Washington and sometimes with their own money. A state health insurance exchange is required to help match buyers with acceptable coverage.

But in both that and the Medicaid program, no one seems to know the definition of "acceptable." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials, who are supposed to be preparing to administer the new national law, have offered only vague guidance to the states and the private insurance industry.

In other words, states such as ours cannot prepare for Obamacare because we don't know what it requires. Even beginning the work of setting up a new Medicaid system requires specifying what care it will provide. West Virginia cannot afford to provide anything more lavish than what Washington requires - but no one seems to know what that will be.

Attempting to meet requirements that have not been defined could be an expensive process for the state. We cannot afford to waste money there, either.

Again, then, state officials should simply wait for the Supreme Court to declare Obamacare unconstitutional. In the unlikely event that does not happen, they should not take a single step toward compliance with the law until someone can tell us precisely what that is.

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