Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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January 9, 2013

Bills introduced about ‘Obamacare’

FRANKFORT — Republican Sen. Julie Denton, the chairwoman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, Wednesday introduced bills requiring legislative approval before the governor can proceed with implementation of the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare.”

But even if it passes the Republican Senate, it’s unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled House.

The law was vigorously opposed by Congressional Republicans but after a Supreme Court ruling last summer that the law is constitutional and the re-election last fall of Barack Obama and a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, opposition has shifted to the states, especially those with Republican governors or legislatures.

One of Denton’s bills would require legislative approval before the governor could establish a health benefit exchange, an online site for people to shop for the most affordable health care plans, often with a federal government subsidy.  If a state does not establish an exchange, then the federal government will do it for that state.

Denton’s other bill would require lawmakers’ approval before the governor could implement another provision of the ACA, to expand Medicaid rolls to cover those who still couldn’t afford health insurance, even with the subsidies.

While the Supreme Court ruled the overall law is constitutional, it ruled states cannot be compelled to expand Medicaid.

Gov. Steve Beshear has already begun establishing the health care exchange by executive order.

 He said Wednesday that all “stakeholders in Kentucky – the insurance companies, the hospitals, the chambers of commerce – everybody prefers we have a Kentucky exchange run by Kentuckians as opposed to letting Washington, D.C., come in and run the exchange.”

Denton said, however, that the actual and long- term costs for the exchange, and especially for expanding Medicaid, are unknown and “one person should not be making this decision for the people of Kentucky.”

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