INDIANAPOLIS – Democrat gubernatorial candidate John Gregg said Monday he favors a hybrid health care exchange model.
Running mate Vi Simpson noted that Republican opponent Mike Pence failed to make a decision on the matter, instead “throwing Hoosiers under the federal bureaucratic bus.”
The comments from the Democratic ticket came following a meeting with Gov. Mitch Daniels, who had sought input from all governor hopefuls.
Health care exchanges are new entities being set up under the federal health care act to create an organized and competitive market for buying health insurance. They will offer a choice of health plans and largely serve individuals or small businesses buying insurance.
States have the choice of setting up their own exchange, joining a regional exchange, taking a hybrid approach or doing nothing. Under the latter, the federal government steps in and makes all the decisions.
Indiana has taken some preparatory steps, but Daniels has not officially moved forward with a plan.
States are required to decide by Nov. 16, only a few days after a new governor will have been elected but before he will have taken office. Daniels said he will honor the recommendation of whomever is elected.
Gregg said he supports the hybrid state/federal option because the state retains control while receiving reimbursement from the federal government.
“We want Hoosiers making decisions, not yahoos in Washington, D.C.,” he said.
Daniels said preliminary estimates show the cost to operate an Indiana health-care exchange will be between $50 million and $65 million a year.
Pence urged Daniels not to set up a state-run exchange, saying there is too much uncertainty. Many Republicans believe the November election could cause a reversal of the entire law.
But Gregg said it is on the books and has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. That means it is up to him as governor – if elected – to make sure it benefits all Hoosiers.
“When you run for the office of governor you have to govern, you have to lead,” he said.
Another decision that must be made quickly is the selection of an essential health benefits package, which will be required in both the small and individual group markets, with or without a health care exchange. The deadline for this is Sept. 30.
Gregg supports the minimum requirements required by the federal government.
Niki Kelly is The Journal Gazette’s Statehouse bureau chief.