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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels Offers Plan for Avoiding Health Care 'Train Wreck'

3 years ago
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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has offered the Obama administration a list of substantial changes as conditions for his state's participation in carrying out the new health care law. Short of such a compromise, he predicted a "train wreck" where governors would "rather be spectators than conductors."

Writing for the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal, Daniels said Monday that governors "have no choice but to prepare for the very real possibility that the law takes effect [in full] in 2014." In anticipation, he offered the outline of a deal, one that would likely need congressional approval and the support of President Obama.

Daniels, who headed the Office of Management and Budget under former President George W. Bush, prefers flat-out repeal of the health care law. But a Republican effort to do that recently fell short in the Senate, while the legal battle to overturn it in federal court is raging in several pending cases. But should the law stand, Daniels said he would be willing to help with its implementation "if the federal government is willing to reroute the train to a different, more productive track."

To that end, the Indiana Republican laid out some "conditions" for participation -- and they are big ones:

-- The law's "expensive benefit mandates" should be waived "so that our citizens aren't forced to buy benefits that they don't need." He didn't specify which "mandates";

-- States must be given the freedom to move Medicaid beneficiaries into new health care exchanges or find some other alternative to "herding hundreds of thousands more people into today's broken Medicaid system";

-- Governors must be given the flexibility to decide which insurance companies are allowed to offer coverage in their states, and provisions in the law that discriminate against consumer-driven plans, such as health savings accounts, should be waived;

-- States should be reimbursed for the "true, full cost of the administrative burden to be imposed" by the law, and that amount should be estimated by an independent auditor, not the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Daniels, a two-term Midwestern governor who is weighing a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, said the law as written is a "massive mistake" that will add trillions of dollars to the federal deficit and lead to a "de facto government takeover of health care, faster than most people realize."

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