One of the major problems I have with fixing the Affordable Care Act is that we are being led by a bunch of morons. Bob Laszewski said “about everybody believed about all of the states would establish their own exchanges” and what do most of the states do? We go from every state wants to set up an exchange to almost no state wants to set up their exchange. Doesn’t anyone see this as a major problem with making health care simpler, better, and more cost efficient? So these same folks have now focused their attention to preserving subsidies rather than making our health care system work better. Unfortunately preserving subsidies turned healthcare.gov into an unnecessarily complex, cost shifting system that requires an unknown number of IRS minions to enforce. Okay, we screwed up. Now is the time to fix it before we turn our health care system into a VA system on steroids. What would it take to make state exchanges work? State exchanges would require a simpler system that minimized development and ongoing costs. Fortunately for us states have limited budgets so complicated systems that do not add value to the customer is not an option. Streamlining or replacing the subsidy system with a simpler cost shifting system that could be implemented in a state exchange without much difficulty would be the first priority. It sounds simple. Instead we seem to be locked into a complex national health exchange we did not want and will most likely fail.
My own observation, having closely watched the original Obamacare Congressional debate, is that this issue never came up because about everybody believed about all of the states would establish their own exchange. I think it is fair to say about everyone also believed a few states would not establish their own exchanges. Smaller states, for example, might opt out because they just didn’t have the scale needed to make the program work. I don’t recall a single member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, who believed that if this happened those states would lose their subsidies.