Virginia Democrats Want Health Insurance Exchange

House of Delegates Democrats say they will push for creation of a state health insurance exchange during the 2012 General Assembly session that began this week.

The Democrats believe such a marketplace for insurance policies will inevitably come … but they also want to choose which government would run it.

The federal health care law mandates an exchange for each state—but each could be overseen by the state or the federal government.  House Democrats say that even if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down part or all of the law, a state-run exchange is just good public policy and will produce more competition between insurance companies and perhaps lower prices.  Arlington Delegate Patrick Hope is sponsoring one of the bills to expedite its creation.

“Is it going to be housed here in Richmond—overseen by our Department of Health and Human Resources?  Or is going to be overseen in the Hubert Humphrey Building on Independence Avenue in Washington, D.C.?  I think that’s the real threat.  And waiting and not sending a strong signal to the Secretary of Health and Human Resources that we intend to do this is dangerous because we really are threatening the fact whether Virginia has sole control of operating this exchange.”

Some Republicans have said they will file their own legislation, but GOP lawmakers have not yet reached a consensus on whether or when to create an exchange.

-by Anne Marie Morgan

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