Heineman isn't yet ready to act on health insurance exchange plan - LivewellNebraska.com
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Heineman isn't yet ready to act on health insurance exchange plan

LINCOLN — Election Day has come and gone, but Gov. Dave Heineman isn't ready to say whether Nebraska should run its own health insurance exchange.

“We know one piece of the puzzle,” he said. “There's a lot of factors that are going to go into that.”

Heineman said Nebraska does not have to decide until Nov. 16, the deadline in the new health care law for states to submit plans to operate their own exchanges or partner with the federal government. He wondered whether the deadline might be pushed back.

For states that do not submit plans, the federal government will create the exchange.

The governor, an opponent of the federal health care law, has held off making commitments on a Nebraska exchange.

Initially he said he wanted to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the law in June.

Then he said he wanted to wait for the outcome of the election, in hopes that Republican candidate Mitt Romney would win and the law would be repealed.

Although President Barack Obama's re-election makes repeal almost impossible, Heineman has not announced a timetable for a decision. Neither has Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a fellow Republican.

State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha urged the governor to put politics aside and make a decision in the best interests of Nebraskans.

“The fact of the matter is we're going to have an exchange in Nebraska one way or another,” Nordquist said.

If the deadline is pushed back, he said, it would be only for a few weeks.

The centerpiece of the 2010 federal law, the insurance exchanges will be one-stop shops where people can compare and buy the private health insurance or enroll in Medicaid if eligible.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9583, martha.stoddard@owh.com

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