Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) called on state governors to refuse to set up health care exchanges in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold health care reform. But experts said that try as DeMint might to revive nullification, the senator’s call — even if answered by GOP governors — won’t likely make the impact he’s looking for.
The key quote from DeMint’s press release:
“This government takeover of health care remains as destructive, unsustainable, and unconstitutional as it was the day it was passed, unread, by a since-fired congressional majority. Now as then, our first step toward real health care reform and economic renewal remains Obamacare’s full repeal, down to the last letter and punctuation mark.
“I urge every governor to stop implementing the health care exchanges that would help implement the harmful effects of this misguided law. Americans have loudly rejected this federal takeover of health care, and governors should join with the people and reject its implementation.”
University of Virginia Law School professor Doug Laycock told TPM: “On the particular point of not creating an exchange, it might be a step short of outright nullification, but yeah that’s what he’s talking about.”
“If the state doesn’t create an exchange, the feds will create an exchange there,” Laycock said. “I don’t know if DeMint knows that. But the tone of the quote you read to me is nullification, but there may be a loophole with respect to the exchanges.”
Nina Owcharenko, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy Studies, noted that states don’t have to actually set up and run the exchanges.
“As a practical matter a lot of states haven’t — there hasn’t been one state that has a finalized exchange yet, for example,” said Owcharenko. “Even states that are anxious to get an exchange up and running, it’s taking a lot longer than they expected. And a lot of governors have said they don’t plan on setting up an exchange, and just plan on having the federal government being the default.”
Owcharenko, who favors total repeal of the law, said that the federal government was ultimately putting so many restrictions and guidelines in place that the state role is reduced to merely administering a federal program rather than working in any real partnership.
“I would say as this bill continues, as more of the law gets implemented, there’s less and less reason for states to actually participate in this effort.”
DeMint’s office did not return requests for comment.