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Texas Lagging Behind In Complying With Health Care Law

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 04:08 PM CDT

It's no secret many of Texas' top lawmakers were hoping the Supreme Court would strike down the Affordable Care Act. That didn't happen.

While many states began working to comply with the ACA months ago, Texas did not. The state currently has no plan in place to comply with the portion of the law that deals with a health insurance exchange. It’s an online marketplace where consumers can shop for health insurance options. Every state is required, under the ACA, to have a state-run or federally-run exchange.

The Supreme Court ruling left Texas with two options:

  1. Texas can comply with the law and create an online marketplace by January 1, 2013.
  2. Texas can not comply with the law. If Texas doesn’t create its own exchange, the federal government will step in and create one for the state, with Washington in control.
So far, Texas’ top lawmakers have not said which option they plan to go with, and they don’t seem to be in any rush to decide.

Last session Texas Representative John Zerwas introduced legislation to begin drafting a plan for an online insurance marketplace.

”I don't like my whole strategic direction to be driven by hope,” said Rep. Zerwas (R- Simonton).

Dr. Zerwas is against the ACA and had hoped it would be struck down by the Supreme Court.

“Yes, I'm hopeful that these things will strike it down, but I’d rather have something tangible out there that I know is out there in the event that we need it,” Zerwas said of why he introduced the bill to start creating the marketplace.

His bill never made it out of committee, meaning there is now no plan in place to comply with the law. “We're kind of behind on this and we anticipated we would be,” admitted Zerwas of the lack of legislative action so far.

Zerwas says he's still hoping not to have to comply if Mitt Romney is elected in November. “But if that's not the case, than the timelines become extremely difficult to comply with making an exchange,” Zerwas said of the problems of continued procrastination.

Zerwas says he’d prefer the work to start now, but Governor Rick Perry appears in no rush to do that. A spokeswoman for the Governor said he's looking into action to move forward but has "no interest in fast tracking any portion of this bankrupting and overreaching legislation. We will continue to call for the full repeal of the bill."

The decision on whether to comply with the law or not, is essentially in Rick Perry's hands. He has the executive authority to create the exchange, if he so chooses.

The state of Utah is one of several states that already has its exchange web sites up and running. Among the nation's largest states, Texas is almost alone in failing to start work on such a web site, according to the Houston Chronicle.Texas Lagging Behind In Complying With Health Care Law

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Enrollment for healthcare exchanges as part of healthcare reform begins October 1 in states where exchanges will be set up. Expect special reports each week from us about what you need to know about 'Obamacare' and the ongoing political fight about its future

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