In early May 2011, legislation to defund the federal health care exchange grants to states passed 238-183, with the votes of all GOP members and five Democrats in support of the bill. However, this bill is unlikely to even be considered on the Senate floor and, if it is, the Obama Administration has already issued a statement of disapproval.
The five Democrats who opposed the measure were Blue Dogs Jason Altmire (PA), Dan Boren (OK), Tim Holden (PA) and Mike McIntyre (NC) as well as Luis Gutierrez (CA). Representative Gutierrez has a long history of opposing the immigration policy language in the PPACA exchange provisions, so it was initially thought his was a purposeful vote. However, he later released a statement indicating his vote on the exchange defunding was actually a mistake—he simply pressed the wrong button while voting and didn’t realize his error until it was too late to correct it.
In addition to this federal action, a few states are beginning to move on exchange bills as many state legislative sessions come to a close. Four states—California, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia—have approved legislation to at least begin the exchange creation process. In Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, agents and brokers have a clear role in this process. Also, we have enacted legislation awaiting gubernatorial action in Colorado, Hawaii, North Dakota, Vermont and Washington State. Fifteen more states have actively pending exchange measures, and bills have languished or been vetoed in nine other states. NAHU’s (The National Association of Health Underwriter’s)Exchange Coordinator Group continues to be an active presence on exchange legislation and information-sharing nationwide.