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Barbour joins in healthcare reform letter

Twenty of the nation’s GOP governors, including Gov. Haley Barbour, released a letter Monday afternoon that they sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in which they outlined specific changes they would like to see made to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

This is the most detailed challenge to the healthcare law GOP leadership has offered so far. To go with the suggestions, Barbour and others repeat their desire that the PPACA be repealed in the event the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t strike it down. With neither end a certainty, the letter lays out a critical decision states will have to make regarding health insurance exchanges.

Here are the changes the letter proposes (quoting it directly):

* Provide states with complete flexibility on operating the exchange, most importantly the freedom to decide which licensed insurers are permitted to offer their products

* Waive the bill’s costly mandates and grant states the authority to choose benefit rules that meet the specific needs of their citizens

* Waive the provisions that discriminate against consumer-driven health plans, such as health savings accounts (HSA’s)

* Provide blanket discretion to individual states if they chose to move non-disabled
Medicaid beneficiaries into the exchanges for their insurance coverage
without the need of further HHS approval


* Deliver a comprehensive plan for verifying incomes and subsidy amounts for
exchange participants that is not an unfunded mandate but rather fully funded by
the federal government and is certified as workable by an independent auditor


* Commission a new and objective assessment of how many people will end up in
the exchanges and on Medicaid in every state as a result of the legislation
(including those “offloaded” by employers), and at what potential cost to state
governments. The study must be conducted by a neutral third-party research
organization agreed to by the states represented in this letter


These proposals no doubt represent the talking points the national GOP will stick to in the healthcare debate moving forward. Expect to hear them early and often.


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