Dalrymple Goes Wobbly On Implementing Obamacare


I wrote earlier this week wondering if, now that the Supreme Court has upheld the law and Barack Obama has won re-election, North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple would maintain his opposition to implementing the health insurance exchanges here in North Dakota.

Dalrymple was pretty adamant in his opposition last year, saying there were too many unknowns for the state to get involved. In an article published today, Dalrymple makes it sound like he’s open to a federal exchange:

“Gov. Dalrymple has kept an open mind to what will be the best solution for North Dakota, including the option for an exchange that is jointly managed by the state and federal government,” Jeff Zent, the governor’s spokesman, said Wednesday.

In related news, it does appear as though recently re-elected Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm is maintaining his opposition to the law. He, along with a representative for Governor Dalrymple’s office, testified at a legislative committee last year opposing implementation of the exchanges:

“Let the federal government prove to North Dakota and to other states that exchanges can work financially,” Hamm said in a statement. “If the federal government can prove that, North Dakota could, if it wanted to, take over the exchange operations at some point in the future.”

That makes it clear where Hamm is at. Let the feds implement the exchange. If it’s such a wonderful idea (and it won’t be), the State of North Dakota can take it over later.

Let’s be clear: The exchanges are a crap sandwich. They are the creation of a controlled market for health insurance, and regardless of who implements them, the federal government is in the driver’s seat in terms of what insurance policies can and cannot be sold on the exchange. If the federal government doesn’t like the terms of a particular policy, be it sold through a state-implemented exchange or a federal-implemented exchange, the federal government can reject it.

There is no state control. All the state implementation allows for is the state of North Dakota to take on a significant amount of the cost for implementing the exchange.

Paying for something the state doesn’t control doesn’t sound like a good deal for the state.

In North Dakota, insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield is the primary force behind the push to implement exchanges at the state level. For BCBS, the exchanges represent a government-controlled market for the products they sell. They seem to think that they may have a bit more advantage if the exchange is implemented by policymakers in their back yard rather than in Washington DC.

That may be true marginally, and maybe state implementation is better for BCBS, but it’s not better for insurance consumers or the taxpayers.

Update: I made some phone calls to some legislative friends today, and the consensus is that the Republican caucus (especially the House Republicans) don’t see exchanges going anywhere. There might be some different feelings if the federal government makes some reforms to the Obamacare policy, but as it stands now exchanges seem to be a non-starter from the legislative perspective.

Update: A reader forwards along this response from Governor Jack Dalrymple’s office to a question about whether or not they support the exchanges. Note that while the response notes the legislature’s past vote against implementing exchanges, it tells us nothing about Dalrymple’s position.

Thank you for your email regarding the health benefits exchange and Medicaid expansion provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The North Dakota State House of Representatives voted 64 to 30 to defeat efforts to establish a state-based, ACA mandated exchange. Therefore, North Dakota will not be building a health insurance exchange.


Barb Peske
Constituent Services Director
Office of Governor Jack Dalrymple

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Mike Quinn

    Lets just ignore the election. By electing Heidi and Obama people clearly showed they want health care reform. As usual you and your right wing buddies want to be obstructionist. What pathetic Americans, you want to ignore the will of the people. Instead lets make sure there is plenty of money to maintain the Bush tax cuts, that is clearly what the American people voted for. In your fight for greed you don’t have an once of decency or mercy for working people.

    • alanstorm

      Health care reform? All for it. Let’s repeal Obamacare, since you insist on the will of the people (a majority still doesn’t want it) and try some real reforms.

      As for being obstructionist, let’s talk about Harry Reid’s Senate, which has refused to even vote on numerous bills passed by the House.

      If you had any mercy for working people, you wouldn’t be asking for more government. Read some history sometime, you might – MIGHT – learn something.

      • Mike Quinn

        The majority of people don’t want Obama care? Were you drunk election night? Read the newspaper and see who won. Also check to see what Obama ran on.

        • sbark

          They just want free stuff………..could care less if it was health care or free peanuts at the bus stop supplied by the Fed govt………
          They voted for free stuff in general……..

          • Mike Quinn

            Eliminate the estate tax. Doesn’t that mean rich kids get free stuff? When the rich get free stuff it is good. You have to love the Republican double standard. When rich people get free stuff it is trickle down and wonderful, but when working people get free stuff they are moochers.

          • Uh, What?

            “Free stuff” — like the things I WORK HARD FOR. Shouldn’t I be able to pass down my family farm or business to my children without having to liquidate those assets so that my kid can pay extra taxes on that estate that has ALREADY been taxed when it was first income?

            Your “eat the rich” mentality is over the top crazy.

          • sbark

            Estate taxation………..paying tax twice on the same income
            classic Dem’cat line of thinking……..

        • splined

          The US postal service has proven that they can loose 15.9 billion dollars in just one year. What happens when Obama care looses 15.9 trillion dollars in one year. Perhaps Obama should prove he can manage the postal service before he looses anymore trillions.

    • sbark

      The estimated cost of ObamaCare is already 200% over what the dem’cats lied to us with in 2009……………for an extra trillion dollars we basically get another economic stifling beuarcracy making life and death decsions……..
      Realize, for 100 billion ….1/20th the now est. cost of ObamaCare—the uninsured could’ve simply received checks in the mail to get insured……..
      instead, once again the Left forces more govt on the country in response to the failure of Medicare, the org. medical cost inflator hoisted on the public 70 yrs ago.
      Think Ayn Rand…….

      • Mike Quinn

        “Life and death decisions”, lions and tigers, and bears. Of course when my daughters friend in New York just got cancer and insurance would not pay for it, that was not a life and death decision. Do you dingers realize the election just proved your old lies didn’t work. Come up with some new scary stories. Try the Sharia law stuff, or make up a gun rumor. Come on now when the old lies don’t work you cannot just recycle them.

        • RCND

          I am sorry to hear about your daughters friend, but her health and insurance issues are her responsibility to manage.

        • sbark

          My condolances, but cannot she walk in any ER door and receive medical care…….nobody gets turned down, at least not until Obamacare is implemented.

    • RCND

      No they didn’t. The majority still are opposed to Obamacare despite the election results. It is other free stuff they wanted

      • Mike Quinn

        Wow, the people who voted for Obama had no idea he was in favor of Obama care? Someone check the spinner, it has to be broken if this is the best you can do. What was the other free stuff people wanted. T shirts, Rob had one goofy article on here saying Obama was giving people free cell phones. Where do you get them. You guys are just plain vanilla nuts.

        • RCND

          Your spinner needs checking. Do you honestly think there is an overwhelming shift in support for Obamacare because of the election results? Do you honestly think North Dakotans have had a sweeping change of heart? Dude, go back to harassing the Bismarck tribune with your Letter a Day to the Editors

        • Gern Blanston

          Using your logic, we can say that ND overwhelmingly supported Rebublicans – again. So apparently they have given Republicans a mandate to NOT work with Obamacare when possible.

  • sbark

    The Problem is he received a confusing message from ND voters in Nov………the same voters rejected Pommory, Conrad and Dorgan when they voted for ObamaCare in 2009…..
    …….but they now just voted in a even more ardent supportor of ObamaCare/radical left in Heitkamp……she even went so far as advocating take a pill, and death panel decisions as a guest host on her Brothers radio show during the ObamaCare debates back in 2009….
    That gives D’rymple plausible deniabilty as a RINO to go ahead as implement state run exchanges…..
    Instead of opening up health Ins. competition across state lines, the free market solution, BCBS receives govt intervention which will allow them to raise their bottom line without any competiton as they kowtow to the Fed govt beuracracy in hopes of being a single payor survivor after the dust settles.

    • Joseph

      confusing message is right. The Sioux were also fiercely independent at one time. Look at them now. They have been trained to be takers. Like it or not, we are in Takers 101.

      • sbark

        I’m thinking Takers Grad school for a good part of the 53% that voted Dem’cat

  • kevindf

    The Heitkamp clan doesn’t look very healthy. Mootchele would not approve of the shape they are in.


    • sbark

      Lucky there wasnt ambulance call needed during the filming of the batting cage political ad in Oct.

    • Mike Quinn

      Classic hider, use cheap insults and hide behind a fake name. You really have to admire a midget of this caliber. If your theory is correct then Rob Port is wrong on everything. Why not call Rob out on his cheeseburger habit?

      • kevindf

        Rob doesn’t want to dictate everyone’s lifestyles like Heitkamp and her fellow travelers do.

        • opinionated

          Excellant response… these people just do not get it… they are all like sheep they just line up… we refuse to line up

      • camsaure

        You kinda sound like a broken record.

    • opinionated

      Moochelle has no problem pointing out that our kids are too fat… the Democrats spent an entire 4 years telling us how unhealthy our kids were, so if we point out the obvious give us the same courtesy.

  • RCND

    Here is that link again to write the Governor and encourage him to stand firm against health care exchanges: https://secure.freedomworks.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=502&JServSessionIdr004=0ulngrt871.app304a

    93 letters so far. Keep them coming

  • Harold

    What about people over 65? Many in the medical field say under Obama Care that group that age and older will be largely ignored when treatment for some ailment is needed. And with the secrecy surrounding what Obama Care will do or won’t do, many are left wondering if their next illness which could be easily treated will be a death sentence instead. I know, I know the most transparent administration known to mankind will tell us who lives and who dies under Obama CAre.

    • kevindf

      Most medical care is at the beginning and end of life. That will no longer be the case. Good luck.

    • dakotacyr

      What a bunch of hooey! Get over it!

  • kevindf

    Good luck getting timely medical care from now on. I had to wait over a month.

    • dakotacyr

      Poor baby!

  • dakotacyr

    The Republican Governors Association sent a letter to HHS asking for an extension to filing the necessary applications for the exchanges. HHS extended the deadline to Dec. 14 just for the Republican governors. Oh they are wobbling all right. Eventually ND will fall as well. It’s just a matter of time.

  • dakotacyr

    ooohhhh, ooohhhhh, even Al Carlson is getting all wobbly….. http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/380500/group/News/

    Yup, yup, ND will cave in short order. elections have consequences! Bwhahahhahahahahahah

    • kevindf

      Enjoy the long waiting lines.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      The Republican-dominated legislature might have something to say about that.