A state senator is pressing the governor to make a decision on whether Nebraska will have a state-based health exchange.
Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha advocates for a state-based exchange, rather than allowing the federal government create the exchange for Nebraska.
“I think it’s best to keep the decisions local and let Nebraskans make health care decisions for Nebraskans,” Nordquist tells Nebraska Radio Network in an interview. “Gov. Heineman has yet to this point, again we’re only a week away, Gov. Heineman has yet to talk about, publicly, his plan for either a state exchange or his reasoning for going to a federal exchange.”
Nordquist wrote Heineman about the issuePDF of Nordquist letter.
Heineman initially favored creation of a state-based exchange, but has argued of late that federal regulations reduce the benefits of creating a state-based exchange. Heineman says the regulations from Washington give the federal government overall control of exchanges, whether created by the states or by the federal government. He has questioned whether a state-based exchange would merely shift the cost of the exchange to Nebraska while maintaining control of the exchange in Washington.
Nordquist disagrees with the governor’s assessment.
“So, I’m not buying the argument from the governor. There are plenty of decisions that we can make as a state by doing a state-based exchange. Those decisions will now, if the governor chooses not to do a state exchange, will now be made by federal bureaucrats in Washington,” Heineman says.
Nebraska has received approximately $6 million to study how best to implement a health exchange in Nebraska. States have until November 16th to let the federal government know what type of exchange they prefer.
Nordquist wants Nebraska to create its own exchange.
“The state-based exchange is best for Nebraska. We can still make the decisions locally. We can make the decisions about whether we want an open marketplace. We can set up a customer service system that works for every corner of Nebraska,” according to Nordquist. “I trust Nebraska policy makers much more than I would at this time federal bureaucrats on health care.”
Nordquist points out that 13 states have already moved forward on state-based exchanges.
“They said we know best in our state how to manage our own health care. That’s a decision I think Nebraskans can make pretty easily,” Nordquist says.
AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Sen. Jeremy Nordquist on the issue of health exchanges. [5 min.]