Louisiana should not devote resources to a program it won’t control and may soon be rendered obsolete

This evening, Louisiana’s Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hear SB744. This bill would require Louisiana to create an “exchange” to facilitate the purchase and sale of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as ObamaCare. Here are five reasons why legislators should vote against SB744:

  1. Louisiana taxpayers should not be forced to fund a state exchange. Louisiana could expect to pay approximately $40 million per year to run the exchange. This money would come from the pockets of Louisiana taxpayers. If legislators elect not to establish an exchange, the federal government can create one, but Louisianans would not be forced to pick up the tab. Legislators should not stick their constituents with a $40 million annual bill to help implement an unpopular federal law. If Washington insists on an exchange, let them pay for it.
  2. State legislators should not create a new bureaucracy that will be controlled from Washington. The federal government already prevents states from establishing sensible health care policies. President Obama’s health care law continues this unfortunate trend. Establishing an exchange will do nothing to address this problem. If anything, it will serve as a fig leaf for the federal bureaucrats who dominate health care policy. Legislators should look for opportunities to expand state autonomy over health care policy rather than participating in another exercise in central planning.
  3. Creating an exchange will expose Louisiana businesses to excessive penalties for insurance that does not meet federal requirements. Many employers will elect not to purchase overpriced, overregulated insurance policies for their employees. These employees will have access to insurance through the exchange, but the federal government will hit employers with a tax that could be as high as $3,000 per employee. The authors of ObamaCare, however, only applied this employer mandate to states that create exchanges. This seems to have been an oversight on their part, but it appears that this tax cannot be imposed on employers if Louisiana does not create an exchange.
  4. A state exchange will make it easier for the Obama administration to enforce troubling aspects of the Affordable Care Act. For example, creating an exchange would make it easier for the Obama administration to collect taxes that fund efforts to force religious employers to provide coverage for services they find immoral. Legislators who oppose this attack on religious freedom should not facilitate it by creating an exchange.
  5. There is no value in establishing an exchange that could soon be swept away by judicial or legislative action. The Supreme Court will soon be ruling on constitutional issues relating to ObamaCare. In addition, the law may be altered or even repealed after the fall elections. It should be noted that Indiana Senator Dick Lugar refused to sign a Repeal ObamaCare pledge and was defeated last night by an opponent who did sign the pledge. Louisiana legislators and officials should not devote time and resources to establishing an exchange that may be rendered null by judicial, political or legislative developments in the near future. Even supporters of state exchanges have conceded that current uncertainties render this an inopportune time to move forward. The prudent course of action is to wait and see how events develop in the coming months before making any commitments – particularly those that involve taxpayer dollars.

In short, creating a state exchange offers the worst of both worlds: a program that burdens Louisiana businesses and taxpayers without offering Louisiana policymakers a meaningful opportunity to improve our health care system. The Affordable Care Act is a particularly unpopular law that faces an uncertain legal and political future. Legislators should vote no on SB744.

 Kevin Kane is the president of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy