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More details needed on Obamacare

October 6, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

It is becoming painfully apparent that when former House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Americans would have to enact the national health care law to find out what was in it, she was not being entirely candid.

More than two and one-half years ago, President Barack Obama signed the measure into law.

We still don't know what's in it.

West Virginia officials are attempting to determine precisely what the law requires our state to do. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and her agency don't seem able to say.

On July 19, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin sent Sebelius a letter asking several questions about the "Obamacare" requirement that states expand Medicaid programs. In West Virginia, doing so would be exceedingly expensive at a time when taxpayers are having trouble paying for the existing Medicaid system.

Sebelius still has not responded to Tomblin's query.

Medicaid is not the only mandate embedded in "Obamacare." The law also requires states to set "basic" levels for 10 types of coverage most health insurance policies are required to cover.

Without knowing exactly what the federal law requires - in other words, what levels of coverage Washington mandates that states in turn mandate - West Virginia officials cannot act prudently on the stipulation. That appears to be the gist of Tomblin's letter. How can states meet a requirement that, in effect, has not been detailed?

Obviously, the foundation of "Obamacare" is authority for the Health and Human Services department to promulgate its own regulations. Either members of Congress who voted for the law didn't know how much authority they were granting to Obama's administration - or they didn't care.

Tomblin and West Virginia legislators should not go along with the scheme. They should refuse to implement any provisions of "Obamacare" that are not clearly beneficial to Mountain State residents as a whole. As matters stand, it appears there is no way of determining whether that is the case with much of what is in the law.



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