Why Do We Want North Dakota To Be The First State In The Nation To Implement Obamacare?

After the passage of Obamacare at the national level, the State of North Dakota set up a committee to review the impacts the policy would have on the state and what sort of legislation may be needed to comply with it. Heading up that committee is Rep. George Keiser who, in some ways, has done in admirable job in communicating just how bad this bill is for North Dakota.

Most notably, Keiser took Senator Kent Conrad to the mat when the latter claimed that the state’s estimates of implementing Obamacare were “exaggerated.”

We’re learning quickly that there wasn’t much exaggeration going on.

In the upcoming special session our state’s leaders will be considering bills to implement the health care exchanges required under Obamacare. This aspect of implementation alone will cost an estimated $10 million per biennium after 2015 and be paid for with a tax on insurance plans on the state (as if your health insurance bill weren’t growing fast enough).

What’s more, implementing the exchanges would mean adding 50 more full time employees to the state’s payrolls, and an additional $83 million in spending will be required to create the exchanges through 2013.

Just so we’ve got that straight, these exchanges represent $83 million in spending over the next 2 years, and $10 million per biennium after that paid for with a tax on your health insurance policy.

And keep in mind, if North Dakota passes this legislation during the special session this coming week we will be the very first state in the nation to implement Obamacare.

So why the rush? Rep. George Keiser insists that we have no choice but to do it:

Keiser said the special session is North Dakota’s one shot to have a state-created exchange.

“If we don’t pass a state plan … we’re done at that point and the feds will develop and submit their plan,” he said.

This is inaccurate. The special session is not the state’s only chance. The deadline for creating the exchanges is January of 2013, meaning that the legislature could address the exchanges if need be during the early days of the next regular session or in a special session called during orientation in December before that session (something that wouldn’t be difficult or expensive to do given that legislators hold informal meetings called the “pre-session” during that time anyway).

There’s also the fact that the State of North Dakota is currently fighting Obamacare in court, arguing that it’s unconstitutional. It cannot help our state’s standing in court to be both calling for the law to be overturned and implementing it faster than any other state.

The form below sends an email to every single legislator who will be meeting this coming week. Tell them that now is not the time to implement the Obamacare exchanges.

[customcontact form=30]

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. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Don Kuznia

    If our country is serious about creating real jobs in the private sector, Obamacare must be repealed.

    • ellinas1

      Rubbish.

      • dalaibama

        yep….obamacare is a dose of rubbish. But we must continue ellinas.

        • ellinas1

          I wish you luck in all your endeavors, especially with Obamacare.
          From the looks of it, Obama will be there four more years. 

  • Clint F

    North Dakota isn’t the only state – many other states are going the same route and some are further ahead than North Dakota.  Many states have looked at regional exchanges where they “combine forces” to avoid the federal plan.

    The thing about this is that it’s a huge undertaking, something I don’t think could be completed by the deadline if not taken up immediately.  One other component is that the (bankrupt) federal government is issuing grants for this stage of the game that will be lost if not used.  I’m not saying I agree with that, I’m just saying that the state is spending grant money to do it.

    I’ve listened to many of the committee hearings and there are a few obvious things to take away from all the testimony:  1, it’s a giant cluster (as expected); 2, it’s going to make health insurance a LOT more expensive and NOT cheaper; and 3, it seems that everybody except Senator Mathern hopes this pile of steaming poo gets repealed or ruled unconstitutional.

    Cf

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Actually, if we implement the exchanges in the special session we will, in fact, be the first in the national to do so.

      • Clint F

        Technicality – we’ll be the first to complete the process.

        Cf

  • Vincent Fitzpatrick

    A vote to implement Obamacare is a vote for federally- and state-funded abortion. It is a vote for euthanasia. And, of course, socialism. No one in Bismarck who has even TALKED about implementing one paragraph of Obamacare or raising one penny in taxes for Obamacare should ever get a single vote from any true Republican.

    • Camsaure

      I agree completly with your statement. What the hell, it looks like the RINOs hope to get the tax dollars and reward their cronies with cushy jobs in their newly created exchange. We are watching and they had better not do this.

    • ellinas1

      Rubbish.

  • Ratbite

    Just another reason to stay home or vote third party on election day 2012. Can any body tell me the difference between the Marxist Democrat Party & the North Dakota Republican Party?? From what I’ve observed the last legislative session the ND Republican Party is pro big government, probig spending, & proabortion. Now where’s the difference?? How abaout someone starting a petition for the Recall of Adam Hamm??

    • EugeneGraner

      A large block of republican players in the state
      offices  and both houses make the
      democrats of the 70s and 80s look desirable today.

  • http://www.themarketingsurvivalist.blogspot.com melissapaulik

    I understand the argument that the exchange needs to be set up now, but it feels to me like we’re giving in way too easily. Other states are passing referendums saying their people won’t be bound by Obamacare and we’re implementing it.

    I’ve heard through the grapevine that the vote is far from secure so send in your forms!

  • Ndrepub1

    Ratbite is extremely uninformed. Adam Hamm does not support this.

  • Lexslexus

    As a libertarian tea partier, I think I come at this with a very critical eye.  But let me highlight several reasons I think a state exchange is superior to a federal takeover. 
    1) The exchange will be funded by ND health insurance policy holders regardless if its federally or locally operated and governed.  I think we might agree that ND, however imperfect, is more capable of running a more efficient operation.
     
    2) Much the same as other federal programs (however poorly conceived and/or Constitutional), would you rather have a federally mandated state tax dollars staying in your state for staffing and operations or go to Washington, DC?  We have the option of using federally mandated taxes on insurers for an exchange created, governed and managed by North Dakota.  Or grow the beast in Washington.
     
    3) We would NOT be the first state to pass legislation establishing a state exchange.  These states are ahead of us and have already done so: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia (source: http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?TabId=21388).  Additionally, since HHS certification of state exchanges must take place by 1/1/13, the ND legislature cannot delay if it wants to run its own exchange.  On top of that, the application deadline for state exchange establishment grants is July 2012.  Since the ND legislature doesn’t meet until Jan 2013 it would miss both deadlines and the feds will take over.
     
    4) There is language in the ND bill to sunset a state exchange if the requirement is repealed or ruled unconstitutional.
     
    5) Allowing the federal government to run our state’s exchange with ND policyholders’ money will be likely writing a blank check to the federal government for whatever costs they want to bill us for and provide them even more federal regulatory power over our ND insurance market/consumers (which is a state right, not a power ND should cede to DC).

    My initial reaction to these exchange was similar to Rob’s.  But after considering the unintended consequences I think a state exchange is making the best of the hand we’ve been dealt to this point.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      These are certainly the talking points being put out by the short-sighted Republicans in favor of this, but they have little grounding in fact.

      The break down to two main points:

      1) By implementing the exchanges now ND will somehow have control of its own destiny.  This is bunk.  The feds are in the driver’s seat.  Everything we pass must be approved by the feds.  If the feds initially accept what we create, and decide they don’t like it, they can take it over and our only recourse would be to sue (see: the EPA situation with regional haze).  Trying to cast this issue as one having anything to do with federalism just isn’t accurate.

      2) The “first state” thing is a red herring.  We are way, way ahead of the curve in pushing this, but even if we’re not the first state and only the 11th state…does that somehow make this better?  It’s clear that if we choose to wait on this issue we wouldn’t be alone.  And nothing would stop the governor from holding a special session later to address the issue.

      This would be a terrible mistake, and it would cost the Republicans dearly in the upcoming elections if they pull this stunt.  Betraying North Dakotans on Obamacare cost Dorgan and Pomeroy their seats.

      Maybe Republicans think they’re immune from that sort of backlash.  Do they really want to put it to the test?

      • Lexslexus

        Rob,
        As much as I want Obamacare to go away, I think you’re letting that cloud your judgment.
        1) This is an opportunity to prevent the health insurance equivalent of regional haze.  By taking advantage of the dozen or so state options, ND can prevent some of the worst provisions that the Feds would undoubtedly enact.
        2) I was just correcting your report that we would be first.  States realizing that local control beats Washington is common sense.  I’d rather pick 10 random North Dakotans for an Exchange governing board than all the “experts” in Washington.

        The only way this costs Republicans in elections is if they support a federally defined and operated exchange that will derive its revenues from ND insurance members.  They can prevent the worst of such an exchange and explain the clear logic to their constituents.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          Every single plan offered on the exchange must be approved by Washington DC.

          The only thing we’re winning here is the opportunity to pay for the exchange locally.

          But by all means, let’s follow the fine policy example of…. California and Vermont.

          This is a huge mistake. There is no up side. Let’s hope it fails.

          • Lexslexus

            “Every single plan offered on the exchange must be approved by Washington DC.” – In a federal exchange this is true and further, they can exclude carriers whose rates they don’t like.  In the state exchange bill the exchange must be an open marketplace where all insurers can participate. 

            “The only thing we’re winning here is the opporunity to pay for the exchange locally” – As I stated before, you will PAY for it locally whether it is RUN by the state or feds.  I’d rather pay for a state solution with North Dakota employees instead of Washington employees.

            California & Vermont legalized medical marijuana.  Do you want to ignore that good idea too?

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